CINDY NORCOTT TELLS US HOW TO FINISH 2020 STRONG
Award winning entrepreneur, motivational speaker and business coach, Cindy Norcott, chatted to us about ending one of the most challenging years on a positive note with a renewed sense of perspective and direction.
Like so many of us, she wasn’t bullet proof during the challenging lockdown period but, drawing on her characteristically pragmatic and positive approach, she shares how she reacted and how all of us can take those first steps forward during these difficult times.
For business owners and managers, a short motivational chat could be the best Christmas present you could give your team. Cindy will tell everyone how they can finish 2020 strong, lift the lid on their potential, motivate themselves and others and, most importantly, remain resilient in a recessionary economy.
O&A: As an entrepreneur, mother, South African (I could go on and on) you have had to deal with the pandemic, lockdown and all those unexpected challenges that 2020 has brought. What were the three biggest challenges and what were your learnings from dealing with them?
Cindy: My first challenge in dealing with the lockdown was as a leader. I felt very responsible for my team of staff and, when the lockdown was announced and our whole business pipeline fell away, I had daily bouts of stress and anxiety, playing out possible future scenarios in my head. I wasn’t sure if our business would survive and I had to show some confidence and leadership to my team who were all stressed and worried.
My second challenge was in juggling my numerous work commitments, my family and all my other community and volunteer commitments. As lockdown was announced, I was bombarded with WhatsApp’s, emails and webinars. At the same time, I was on various boards and committees and I had my family at home wondering why they never saw me. I soon realised I had to put boundaries on some of my activities and my working hours. This resulted in me actually stepping down from several voluntary roles which led to a massive sense of relief.
The one thing I am terrified of is technology and I am certainly no early adopter. The best thing I did was have a zoom training session the day before we went into lockdown. This helped me immensely to have the confidence to host many webinars for clients and to pivot into online motivational speaking and coaching. It has also opened up so many new markets to me in South Africa and internationally.
O&A: For many business owners, this has been a very discouraging time. Most are still battling to keep their heads above the water. What advice can you give to those who are trying to negotiate choppy waters at this time?
The first order of business is to survive first so that you can thrive later. This is a time for making the tough decisions. Cut your costs fast and look for all areas in your business where the fat has crept in. Don’t look too far into the future as it will lead to anxiety. Just focus on today and what you can control. Don’t get caught up listening to the news. It is not helpful. Find supportive business people to lean on and be there to support them, too.
O&A: You will be speaking to many employees within businesses. This was another uncertain environment with many not knowing if they would lose or keep their jobs. What will be your main message to them?
Cindy: My main message to employees is that now is the time to be relevant. Are you adding value? Are you communicating regularly with your boss and your team? Are you offering solutions and volunteering to go above and beyond the call of duty? Have you thanked your boss for your salary and your job? Have you asked them how they are and what else you can do for them? There is a very interesting question that I ask business owners – “If you were to start your business over again right now, who would you take with you?”. The best, most committed employees should never get retrenched. Make sure you are adding value daily. Learn new technology and also consider a side hustle to eliminate your chances of being retrenched and having nothing to fall back on.
O&A: What will be your main message to their employers?
Cindy: Employers need to over communicate with their staff. They need to understand that their people are stressed and worried. Wherever possible, tell them what you know. If you can reassure them, do so. Have daily huddles, weekly meetings and celebrate the wins. Ask them how they are doing personally and how their family is. Show them your human side, too.
O&A: Do you have any advice for those who may have lost jobs and are now trying to find employment – especially given your expertise in this area?
Cindy: I would advise anyone who is looking for a new job to have a multi-pronged approach. I think job seekers need to update their CV’s, have a profile on Linked In, connect with absolutely everyone in their network and approach the agencies and put their CV’s on the portals. Job seekers need to ensure that their salary expectation is realistic and also be open to taking on a role that might be beneath their current expectation. I would also encourage job seekers to consider starting their own businesses or to turn their hobbies into a side hustle. I would also encourage them to look at taking on temporary or contract work in the interim.
O&A: For many, 2020 is the missing year when they didn’t and couldn’t reach their goals. How can they finish the year on a positive note?
I think that perspective is such a powerful thing. Ask yourself what 2020 has given you more of? Out of every crisis, there is opportunity. What opportunity have you had this year? I encourage people to practice gratitude and to journal what they are grateful for each day. There are so many people worse off, so I encourage people to help others and practice daily acts of kindness. Try to fill your cup by the end of the year. Set some micro goals of things you would love to do and make sure you do them. Set monthly goals and see how things start to improve.
O&A: Looking to 2021 and knowing that it, too, brings a lot of uncertainty and the continued presence of Covid-19 – what would be your advice to those planning ahead for next year?
Cindy: I think that when setting goals, people need to take into account the uncertainty of the global situation and that the pandemic can change course at any time. I would encourage people to set goals that are not that susceptible to external factors. For example, maybe don’t plan a skiing trip to Europe in February 2021. Rather, set goals that are within your control – such as I will exercise 15 times a month and I will read 20 books in 2021 and I will call my mother every week. I would encourage people to plan in three month chunks and be open to changing plans if the external environment changes. I would encourage people to hold onto their goals loosely and, if things change, to be agile and flexible and set new goals and adapt their approach.