Pandemics are not good for speaking businesses. If you require crowds and gatherings with people hanging on your every word, a global virus will put a big dent in all of that. My last live gig last spring was March 12, 2020 (a date I’ll never forget—the power went out 5 mins into the presentation— should have been an omen). It’s no one’s fault, and it’s not personal as I racked my brain on what to do next. Federal and state relief programs were still in the conceptual phase, and all my scheduled clients had, by this time, canceled. What did I do? I went and got a job. I’m not a lazy man— I been working since I was 12, and I figured too that employment would keep me busy and financially prudent.
What I didn’t necessarily count on but am grateful for is the education I received. In the spring of 2020, you would have found me in Sporting Goods at Fleet Farm. Yes, that’s right–retail. Now I’ve worked hard in my life and have done many things, but I have a newfound deep respect for people who do retail every day— it is a tough gig.
I began to look at my new employment as invaluable “field research.” I think speakers can get too far removed from the topics they speak on— motivation, leadership, professionalism, customer service—here I was living it! Every night I would go home and record and journal. I wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass without reflection and collection.
I call this blog “A Letter from the Frontlines…” because that what I was—in the trenches. Here are three things from the customer service trenches that my spring of 2020 education taught me:
I am both thankful and humbled by my pandemic education. Retail is hard work. I have nothing but respect and admiration for the workers who do it every day. I will never deliver another presentation on Customer Service without recalling and conveying what I learned— on the frontlines.