When an Old Dog Has to Learn New Tricks

How Zoom, online learning platforms and the pandemic disrupted a comfortable life!

I have to admit; my life is really good in a lot of ways. Up until recently, I was enjoying the comforts and rewards of a business model built around me. An important part of the workflow was on-site, in-person meetings with the business leaders I serve. I assumed my clients would always need to see me in person, and I was in no hurry to dump the stuff I was keeping in my head into a scalable resource – why would I? They needed to meet with me in person to get what they needed – or so I thought!

Guess what?

As painful as it is to admit, my clients don’t need me as much any more!

Well, at least not in the way they did before Zoom, online learning platforms and the pandemic showed up and screwed everything up – Ouch!

The pandemic’s contribution was simple; it forced behavior change. Us humans have a subconscious need to resist change – If the “do nothing” option is open, we take it. The pandemic removed the ”do nothing” option.

I was forced to either move my on-site, in-person client meetings into the cloud or go out of business! With Zoom the transition was made super easy to add another huge benefit to my clients; with one click I could record the meetings too!

How did such a simple change add so much value to my clients while at the same time reducing what they personally need from me? It’s about two things:

a) The Value of Repetition
b) The Ease of Knowledge Transfer

a) The Value of Repetition:

Under the old model, it was my job to identify the important challenges and share tools, techniques or methods to address them. I used these tools, techniques and methods with my clients every day, but for my clients these were sometimes new concepts. It’s not reasonable to expect them to understand it crystal clear the first time.

Remember the educational children’s TV show Blue’s Clues?

Did you know that the same show was aired, over and over for a week? Every Monday, a new show was introduced with a focus on one learning objective. Then the show was repeated every day of the week until Friday. The research showed the comprehension of the learning objective improved every time the child watches it. By Friday, they learned a lot more than what they learned after just the first Monday viewing.

Adults also learn through repetition.

The only question is whether it takes an adult more or less than the five times it takes a child, to fully comprehend a new concept!

When you can record the meeting with Zoom and provide access to your client, they can watch and repeat the meeting as often and with whomever they choose. It also makes my job easier, since I no longer have to document and remember the entire meeting!

b) The Ease of Knowledge Transfer

Online Learning Platforms removed another reason my clients needed to meet with me in person!

The legacy business model rewarded me for keeping all the tools, techniques and methods in my head. This way, my clients would have to keep paying me to show up to give them personal access to it. Many consultants and other professionals have built profitable business models around the leverage obtained from not sharing their wisdom and knowledge. This phenomenon is not new.

We at TBT have always rejected this scarcity mindset and have replaced it with an abundance mindset. We always make a point to share what we have learned. This abundance mindset is appreciated by our clients, but it wasn’t always easy to get the knowledge transfer to stick.

Prior to the advancements in online learning technology, I was personally responsible to support the effort to engage and communicate the action plans throughout the employee teams. While this method of personal engagement and motivation of the team by me is effective and also personally rewarding, it comes at a cost. The model requires my clients to invest in my time and ability to engage directly with their teams.

Not only can online learning platforms replace me for less cost, but they also add the benefits of repetition and scalability. Further, it allows the business team to engage with the resources any time and any place.

The pandemic was basically a one-two punch to my comfortable and rewarding business model. It practically happened overnight! Maybe I could just pretend it’s not happening? I could bury my head in the sand and hope this whole thing would just blow over!

That’s not the choice I made! I am so thankful now I spent so much of the past decade engaging in the methods of addressing the risky, disruptive uncertainty of the startup world. In fact, all of this disruption has created a once in a lifetime opportunity!

It has allowed me to accomplish a goal I set for myself a few years ago. In fact, I am embarrassed to say it’s been over a decade that the following goal statement was penned by yours truly!

“I allow myself to easily provide mutually beneficial value to a small business owner totally via the digital world.”
September 28, 2009!

The transformation is happening!

Welcome to our new business model: TBT Virtual! We launch our first product this month! But don’t think I am doing this all by myself this time. For this new model, I have surrounded myself with a young, smart and motivated team to energize the action plan!

I guess I am a slow learner – but it proves you can teach an old dog new tricks!

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Author: Paul Foster
Paul's life’s purpose is to bring more cash, freedom and happiness to independent business owners. Paul wants to learn about your toughest business challenges and frustrations so he can help you tackle them.