Retail Observer

February 2021

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 45 of 67

RETAILOBSERVER.COM FEBRUARY 2021 46 P op quiz: When did The Great Depression begin? Easy: Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929, when the U.S. Stock Market crashed. Or was it? In fact, the market actually dropped more precipitously earlier that October and then regained most of its losses by the following April. Historians now debate whether the crash caused the depression or if the market was merely a barometer of broader economic maladies. At the time, of course, nobody much cared. People were too busy dealing with the harsh terms of their day-to-day existence through the long, miserable decade of the 1930s. "One of my children asked me once if people living through the Great Depression understood just how bad their era would look to historians," wrote Heather Cox Richardson, a Professor of History at Boston College, in a recent column. "I answered that, on the whole, I thought not." The great epochs in history tend to happen in two phases: the churn of events as they occur and the later definition of what they meant. For example, few people called the decade that followed Black Tuesday "The Great Depression" until the 1940s. The term "World War I" was not even imaginable for 20 years after the end of what had only been known as the "Great War." And the "American Civil War" was referred to as many things as it was being fought, but not that. "People are focused on what's in front of them: finding work, feeding their kids, trying to keep it together, making it through the day," Richardson wrote. "It's only when historians look back to gauge an era that they put the full picture together." We can't see the full picture of our current historical moment. But one thing is clear: the world is more volatile and uncertain than it's been in any of our lifetimes. A global pandemic, economies in crisis, entire business sectors collapsing—it sounds more like the prelude to a Zombie film than a scan of the morning news feed. Yet it's all too real. Anyone who believes they are fully secure these days is either kidding themselves or is a lucky member of the one percent. But the upside of insecurity is that it kicks you out of a fixed mindset and empowers you to invent. You can choose to either live in fear or acceptance. I know this from my own experience. Three years ago, I left a comfy corporate job at Microsoft to chase a dream: founding a business storytelling consultancy. From the start, it was a grand success. I traveled the world delivering keynotes and workshops. Then, last March, COVID-19 arrived, and almost overnight my client pipeline went dry. At that point, I was forced to write a new narrative. I could either be a casualty —"I am a one-hit wonder with outmoded skills"—or an innovator—"I am a multimedia guru with an expanding suite of offerings." The second option sounded harder, but much cooler. So I gave it a shot. Nearly a year later, my business has grown and evolved in ways I did not imagine. Today, I deliver workshops from my home studio, and customer satisfaction is as high as ever. Plus, I've added coaching and communications strategy to the mix, and I have more time for writing. I believe that growth wouldn't have happened without the volatility of the past year. And I understand it could go south again tomorrow. Not knowing the future forces me to focus only on the things I can control: my attitude and mindfulness, my willingness to let go, try new things, and see what they teach me. My coach is pushing me to think even more boldly about what success will mean tomorrow. One great exercise has been to imagine myself five years in the future and write the narrative of who I am and what I'm doing. It's a mind-bending challenge, which I advise anyone to try. We can leave it to the armchair observers of tomorrow to label the strange and wondrous days we're living in now. Far more important for our happiness and health is to define our own irrevocable standards and craft the narrative north stars that can help guide us along our journeys. WHAT HISTORY ARE YOU WRITING TODAY? Mario Juarez Business Mindset RO Mario Juarez is an organizational consultant, coach, and motivational speaker. He focuses on helping organizations and individuals achieve better business results through strategic storytelling. An award-winning former journalist, Mario led a series of innovative communications initiatives at Microsoft before founding his company, StoryCo, which serves clients across a range of industries.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Retail Observer - February 2021