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At first it was just a sprinkle of flurries, nothing to worry about. After all it’s April and highly unlikely that a flight will be cancelled because of a blizzard this time of year. But this reasoning neglected to factor that the flurries were falling at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul Airport and that the layover flight to Texas wouldn’t take off for another two hours. Plenty of time for more snow to present itself. And present itself it did. The flight was cancelled and postponed until the next morning.
Thankfully I had built extra time into the travel arrangements, so even though I wouldn’t get to the Fort Worth Convention center until the following afternoon, it was still plenty of time to be ready for the 7pm start time to my presentation in front of 3,000 high school students for the Texas Technology Students Association’s annual conference.
But it was still too close for comfort. “What if the morning flight is delayed and I can’t get there in time?” I don’t like to disappoint clients, so I went to work figuring out the contingency plan.
After looking at the weather map I considered renting a car. It would take at least fourteen hours to drive there, and only the first few hours would be a challenge getting through the blizzard. Once I was far enough south it would be smooth sailing. If all went well I’d likely arrive about the same time the flight would get me in.
But what if it doesn’t go as planned? After all, the flight didn’t go as planned! What if the blizzard left me stranded on the side of the road and I couldn’t get there in time? There had to be another solution.
That’s when I started making some phone calls. I called everyone I knew who was local to the Greater Fort Worth area who was of similar expertise and presentation style as myself to ask if they could be on stand-by should the weather prevent me from making it in time. No one was available. But one colleague had someone in mind and they came highly recommended. After a phone call and an email, I got through to Lyndy Phillips and sure enough he was available and willing to be on call.
Finally, I had my contingency plan in place. If I didn’t make it in time, my client would be taken care of in my absence. Sure, if I didn’t make it then it would mean a loss of several thousands of dollars and months of planning wasted, but I could sleep soundly that night knowing that the people who put their trust in me would be taken care of one way or another.
Lessons Learned on the Road
The story you just read is a small glimpse of a day in the life of a speaker, trainer, and facilitator serving national clients, and while I did make it in time without having to fall back on the contingency plan, that month I learned a lot of lessons.
It was April of 2018, the busiest month of my career at that point, with four contracts with clients across four states nationwide, each requiring weeks and months of preparation:
Aside from learning to be over-prepared for every client (including having a backup presenter lined up just in case) I also learned that there has to be a more efficient way of serving clients.
Ever since 2010 when I designed and facilitated my first training workshop, I’ve been honing a myriad of learning design skills. Over the past decade, aside from delivering in-person workshops, I’ve also developed and produced hundreds of educational videos, mostly as supplements to my in-person work. Yet the experience traveling for work during the freak April blizzard of 2018 in Minnesota, gave me pause to reconsider the business model I had assumed.
“Why does in-person training have to be the default? What if I could provide training and coaching virtually without ever having to leave home? What if it could all be automated?”These questions collectively inspired a deep dive into my own professional development by studying learning design and technology through a graduate program at Purdue University. The result? Not only can I now serve national and global clients from the comfort of my home, but I also now have a transferable skill that can serve me well in any industry moving forward.
Learning design is a relevant skill that I’ve applied directly to my own work with Hashtag Positivity and after several requests from peers in the industry asking for advice in this arena, I've responded to the demand by officially launching eCourse Kit—an all-inclusive program for learning the essential elements of e-learning design for entrepreneurs, subject matter experts, and thought leaders to demonstrate their authority, provide value to the people they serve, and multiply their influence. Best of all, you can do this work from the comfort of your home! No more worrying about whether the weather will interfere with your work so you can focus on what truly matters most: taking care of the people you serve.
If you’re ready to fully step into your power as a leader in your industry by turning your expertise into an engaging online learning experience that will demonstrate your authority, provide value to the people you serve, and multiply your influence, then take the first step by scheduling a 30-minute strategy session to explore your needs. Schedule a time that works best for you here or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jonas Cain is a Positivity Coach, Learning Experience Designer, and Facilitator of Fascination for Hashtag Positivity, helping emerging leaders and their influencers initiate and manage positive change for personal, team, and organizational growth.
Jonas Cain facilitates positive change initiatives for emerging leaders and their influencers.