Category: Adversity

Now, more than ever, Every Business Must Be Resilient

 

As a motivational resilience speaker with a passion for small business, I know how tough it has been. My background as a small business owner, manager and consultant, made me aware of what every small business employee knows: the pandemic may be hindsight for several industries, but small business challenges continue.

Our Survival is Based on Us

In March 2021, the U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Advocacy, issued an important report, The Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Small Businesses. No small business, from the aircraft parts manufacturer with $90 million in revenues, to the pizzeria with $600,000 in revenues was surprised by the conclusion (the italics are mine):

“The effects of the pandemic will continue long after it ends. The pandemic changed patterns of consumption and forced businesses to find new ways of serving their customers. Some businesses have died, some have been born, and many that survive will have been permanently changed.”

Across America, no small business was spared; but in most large cities, especially foodservice, hospitality, travel and leisure, transportation related, niche schools and day care services, things were particularly bleak. If conditions weren’t bad enough for white-owned businesses, they were even worse for minority-owned businesses.

Everyone associated with a small business is being asked to dig deep as never before. The strength of every small business in America has not been in technology or raw ingredients or marketing, but in its people. We are innovative. We always find a way.

Its Time to Stand Up

In February 2021, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce published an article entitled:

4 Ways to Make Your Small Business More Innovative. This was especially important in light of recovery from the effects on the pandemic. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce agreed (the italics are mine):

“Big or small, innovations involve solving problems and challenges, whether with products or services, internal systems and processes or changes in the marketplace. But people in a company often get stuck in silos, unable to envision much beyond their area of expertise…rotate employees to different roles so they gain a broader understanding of the company’s challenges and opportunities. Have company leaders take a day each month to work in someone else’s shoes. Even the owner—especially the owner—should get her hands dirty on the factory floor, or perhaps answer customer service calls now and then.”

This is not the first time that small business has had to rise to the challenge. American small business has not only survived, but led the way through a Great Depression, recessions, diseases, Wars, famine, natural catastrophes and now – recovery from a pandemic.

There is nothing we can’t accomplish.

How do we stand up?

We stand up by having a shared mindset. Not individually, but as a company, organization, association, to overcome and out-innovate every challenge in our way.

Americans love this. It’s in our blood. It’s part of who we are.

We stand up by having a vision. Our vision is to succeed. Our vision is to work together and to see ourselves getting through this. If we’re stuck in our thinking, then let’s un-stick; if one door is closed to us, what’s our vision to open another door? If we can gain perspective from where we are, let’s have the vision to change perspectives.

Finally, no challenge has ever risen up for American small business that wasn’t overcome with the daily grit where we were determined to win. I know we can do this, and I know we will succeed.

 

 

For more information on booking Scott Burrows, Small Business Motivational Resilience Keynote Speaker for your next event, contact him through this website or his office at: (520) 548-1169

How Alert and Agile are You to Industry Changes?

 

The buzz in the insurance and financial industry is focused on the changes all around us. As a national insurance and financial industry keynote speaker audiences are constantly asking me questions about changes in regard to the financial bearing of COVID-19 on the industry, the hybrid workspace model, payment processing, legal challenges following the pandemic and similar issues. While each factor is important, to my mind the most important issue is YOU.

YOU is Not an Acronym!

Insurance expert Patricia Moore recently (May 3, 2021) stated that the industry is shifting to more customization, personalized communication and a strong desire for you to be there when they need you.

Aren’t those self-evident concepts? Unfortunately, not. As an insurance and financial industry keynote speaker and a member of the Million-Dollar roundtable, I believe that many agents were caught flat-footed when the pandemic hit because they failed to be alert and agile. It was business as usual prior to the pandemic and many agencies have not fully recovered as we enter the second-half of 2021.

The one question everyone needs to be asking themselves is “Do I have the vision, mindset and grit to be successful?” The question requires investigation on our part.

In terms of customization, no matter how much YOU feel that the customer can find online, it still comes down to your delivering solutions that match the customer’s needs in this unpredictable climate. Do you have the mindset it takes to provide real answers to your customer’s needs and not cookie-cutter fixes? Will you visualize what changes lie for your customers in the year ahead and the grit to deliver on your promises?

When we refer to “personalized communication,” we are not talking about a snail-mail letter with fancy penmanship! Now, more than ever, insured individuals, organizations and corporations want to know that you are there more them. While we live in digital times, with digital payments and digitized insurance options, it doesn’t mean that customers don’t want to hear from you. In fact, we are seeing that the opposite is true.

One of the chief complaints I hear in meetings and seminars (virtual or in-person) is that they never hear from their agents. In some cases, they don’t even know their names! Do YOU have the mindset to be there for your clients? Do you have the vision to service their needs, day-in and day out? Are you willing to have the grit to update them, offer them your expertise and care about them as people? We are, after all, in the people business, not the premium business.

Finally, are you willing to really be there when you are needed? Being there is more than a cute slogan and catch-phrase. Your clients need you as never before. Are you willing to stand-up for them in times of trouble and challenge as never before?

Will you be there for them should times get tough again? Do you have the grit to tell them that you appreciate their business and that you have their backs no matter what the future brings?

To be successful YOU must be alert and agile. 2021 can be your best year if that lesson is remembered.

 

For more information on booking Scott Burrows, Insurance & Financial Speaker for your next event, contact him through this website or his office at: (520) 548-1169

Resilience and Grit, A Physical Impossibility?

 

It’s a funny comparison, resilience and grit, but as a resilience and grit keynote speaker, I know that what seems opposite are connected.

When we think of “resilience,” we think of a strand of cooked spaghetti, a rubber band, stretch-band or something that bends every which way in the wind but returns to normal. When most of us think of “grit,” we think of holding-fast, grinding it out and never yielding.

As a grit and resilience speaker I know that we can’t have one without the other and in fact, they need each other.

Taking it out of the “physical” and into the organizational, I can almost always predict who in an organization will adjust to change and who will encounter problems.

In November 2012, Laura Quast wrote an engaging article for Forbes on why people resist change. She listed 5 reasons:  fear of the unknown, mistrust, loss of control, bad timing, and every person’s tolerance for change.

The Resilience and Grit Equation

Taking the five points above, I like to turn them around and look at them through the lens of my personal philosophy of Vision – Mindset – Grit. Why? Because I believe that no matter what change you are going through, with resilience and grit, you can accomplish far more than you ever thought possible.

  • Embracing the unknown – Every great inventor, athlete, actor, CEO, sales person, artist, or most anyone who has risen to greatness did so because they embraced the unknown. They drowned out everything negative and had a vision of themselves as being successful, with the mindset of overcoming any challenge and the grit to fight it out.
  • Be in control – No one can be in control one-hundred percent of the time, but we can develop the courage to be resilient no matter what is thrown at us. We can visualize taking that control and understanding we are stronger, tougher and braver than we think.
  • Faith in the future – The resilient person is the one who has the vision and resilience to understand that things will work out IF the effort is made to use the daily grit to make it work.
  • Timing is perfect – The person with resilience and grit understands that “things change” and nothing stays the same. The drive to work changes, the shift from in-person work to virtual to hybrid, new machinery, executives, the organization itself changes. Do you have the vision of seeing yourself in a new role, a new office and even new co-workers? The timing could be perfect to allow yourself to stand-up and shine.
  • Tolerance for change – Who has the tolerance for change? You do. Who is resilient enough to adjust and thrive no matter the situation? You are.

 

The resilient person understands that there is no substitute for grit. It may not be “fancy” day to day, but resilient, motivated employees are those who make organizations work and with purposeful grit, they elevate companies to greatness.

 

For more information on Scott Burrows, Resilience & Grit Motivational Speaker for your next event, contact him through this website or his office at: (520) 548-1169

 

You’re Much Tougher Than You Think

 

Speaking to audiences across the country about overcoming adversity and developing resiliency, it has been my honor to motivate organizations going through tough periods of change and challenges. In my keynotes about overcoming adversity, I recall my own challenges while still in my hospital bed,  formulating my life philosophy of Vision, Mindset and Grit.

“It was Easier for You”

Recently, I had the honor of addressing an audience in-person and an attendee started his comments in this manner:

“Scott, I admire how you were able to overcome adversity, but after all, you’re special. Before your accident you were a martial artist and D-1 football player. You already had a tough mindset and the vision of wellness.”

The mid-level executive went on to explain that soaking wet he was 140 pounds, and barely topped 5’6”

But I am not special, and while it was true that after the car crash, I was a quadriplegic with multiple injuries facing the fight of my life, I am constantly inspired by the stories of others when facing obstacles and finding the grit to push through their challenges.

Two stories come to mind. An executive who, many years back, lost his job to an acquisition. He launched his own company at 73, and has become quite successful. He still works at 82. The inspiring part is that he simultaneously battled cancer and nursed an ill-wife. Another friend survived several tragedies as well, and became an award-winning author. In addition, she lectures throughout the country on pet adoption and mentor’s at-risk children.

If we develop a vision to overcome adversity, have the mindset to be resilient no matter what life throws at us, and the grit to fight whatever has been dealt, we can rise up against our toughest opponent: ourselves.

You Really Are Much Tougher Than You Think

In 2018, Psychology Today featured an interview with researcher and social activist Emilia Lahti in an article entitled “Are You Tougher Than You Think?”

Lahti wrote about toughness and the Finnish concept of Sisu, having the ability to tap into courage and determination. Whether you are in a company about to be acquired or you are launching a product line or facing any kind of uncertainty, you are tougher than you think. Lahti pointed out five important attributes we all need in life:

Stand up for what is important; for your company, your team, for yourself; adopt an action mindset (don’t just sit there); overcome your inner critic (and by the way, I met incredible martial artists who were not much more than 100 pounds); ask for help (we’re all connected) and foster courage and determination in others (the more you believe in yourself, the more others will believe in you).

You are much tougher than you think, more resilient than you know, and more determined to succeed than you realize. Call upon those strengths and you too will have the vision to overcome adversity, the mindset to be strong no matter the situation and the grit to believe in yourself every day.

 

To book Scott Burrows, Overcoming Adversity and Resilience Motivational Speaker for your next in-person or virtual event, contact him today through this website or his office at: (520) 548-1169

 

If Change is the New Normal, What Must Stay the Same?

 

“Everything is changing, Scott. What do I do now?”

 

Not long ago, as I was about to deliver a change management keynote speech, a harried chief executive manager asked me the question that you see above. If 2020 was a year of confusion and adjustment, what can be said about managing change in 2021 and beyond?

We have all heard the trite expression about change being constant. It has been applied to the stock market, computers, healthcare, transportation and certainly foodservice. As a change management keynote speaker, I was much more impressed with the three-dimensional model of change in the Harvard Business Review (October 29, 2020):

  • Change is perpetual, therefore, occurring all the time in an ongoing way.
  • Change is pervasive, meaning that it is unfolding in multiple areas of life at once.
  • Change is exponential; hence it accelerates at an increasingly rapid rate.

I think back to just last year, when the lockdown first took effect. It changed from indifference and contention to fear to resolve and amazingly to solution. It happened to every aspect of our lives and clearly, the change exploded. Take, for example, video conferencing or the technology involved in the 2020 school year.

The Change Ahead

“Everything changes — that’s the one thing that will never change. If you hide from change, you may find yourself stuck or left behind. If you embrace it, change can take you to some pretty amazing places in life.” – Clare Moore, Forbes magazine, March 30, 2021

Ms. Moore is correct. Everything does change. No human on earth can hide from it, and I would argue that even hiding is a change (we’ve all known people who have “hidden out” in their jobs for years). However, throwing up our hands and “embracing change” hardly means that we are powerless creatures.

In our 2021 lives, both work and personal, if change is the new normal, what must stay the same? We must. You and me; us. We must be rock solid and strong. But how? Here is how I answered the chief executive.

We must look deep within ourselves and our organizations to develop three strong supports:

Vision: What is the vision we have incorporated for ourselves to withstand anything that will affect our organizations, our department, our mission, our sense of purpose in the future? Can others appreciate your vision and do they see the seriousness with which you believe in it?

Mindset: We can all come out with feisty slogans, quotes and phrases, but what is your personal attitude toward standing up to the tides of change when the storms and waves crash over you? How will you hold this mindset close when some around you are ready to fold?

Grit: The best vision and hard-nosed mindset wither and fade without the daily grit to fight to overcome the changes and the challenges.

There is no change in 2021 or beyond that can be met by complacency and “sitting down” when you must be moving forward.

It is not that change is constant, or even that it strikes fear into us, but to understand that with vision, mindset and grit we can overcome whatever is put in our way. We will be the same person no matter what comes next and we will surely win.

 

To book Scott Burrows, Change Management Keynote Speaker for your next event, contact him through this website or his office at: (520) 548-1169

 

 

There is no Medicine Like Grit

 

In my motivational presentations on Grit for healthcare organizations, my audiences are sometimes puzzled when I stress the importance of grit in every aspect of medicine and patient care. The relationship between grit and healthcare is stronger than you might imagine.

The Predictor

From physicians in training, to medical equipment sales teams, the topic of grit has come into greater prominence over the past five years.

Allen F. Shih wrote a groundbreaking article for the Journal of Graduate Medical Education in 2017 entitled The Importance of Grit in Medical Training. Shih, a physician and educator himself, understands that it is impossible for medical schools and residency programs to predict success.

To get into a medical school or competitive residency program has long been thought of as the domain of the intelligent and super-intelligent. However, intelligence may not be enough.

Studies of teachers and even West Point cadets has shown that some “intangible factor” beyond test scores, extra-curricular activities, demographic information or GPA indicates those candidates who will fight it out, dig-in, reach down and succeed.

According to research into grit:

“Some have suggested that grit should be integrated into the medical school admissions process by asking recommenders to speak to an applicant’s perseverance or by inquiring about grit during the interview process. We echo these sentiments.

“We expect grit to be an important metric in undergraduate and graduate medical education…we suggest that the academic medical community assess objective measures of grit in their review of applicants.”

As a keynote speaker on healthcare grit who has explored the topic with groups as wide-ranging as nursing students, pharmaceutical sales teams, orthopedic associations, hospital administrators and therapists, I have determined that “qualifications,” while important are flawed. “Over-stressed” measurements such as the need for admissions committees to debate statistically insignificant GPA candidate comparisons often push the topic of grit aside.

What Got You Here?

In a sense, my own journey started in healthcare, as a patient in a large hospital where an accident left me a quadriplegic. I not only understood that unless I developed the philosophy of Vision-Mindset-Grit, that I could languish in that bed and stumble in self-pity. I did improve and my life is much better than I expected due to a vision of wellness and a mindset to go farther than anyone thought was possible. It was grit that separated me from others in my position.

However, in the day-to-day journey that helped me off that bed and allowed me to stand-up and go forward, I was aware of those around me: physicians, surgeons, nurses, physical therapists and all the wonderful support personnel.

What interested me in my many talks to them over the months was that often the most skilled, supportive and compassionate healthcare providers weren’t necessarily those who graduated number one from their many classes and licensing, but those who clawed and fought for every victory and achievement.

These incredible people who formed my team saw in me, what I saw in each of them. They pushed me as others had pushed and elevated them. In the end, we all stood tall together.

Make no mistake, that grit not only belongs in healthcare, but may be its very life-blood.

 

To book Scott Burrows, Motivational Speaker on Healthcare Grit for next event, contact him today through this website or his office at: (520) 548-1169

 

What I Learned from My Pandemic

 

As a Florida motivational speaker who frequently delivers live presentations in Tampa, Orlando and Miami, I am well aware of what the pandemic did to wipe out everyone’s motivation. In fact, there’s a lot of research to back up why you’re feeling unmotivated following a miserable year of lockdown.

 

Where’s My Life?

Cory Stieg, wrote an article for CNBC (January 14, 2021) entitled “How the pandemic killed your motivation, and 6 simple ways to get it back, according to science.” It is a well-written piece where six key “motivational un-blockers” are identified by psychologists to help you get up and moving once again. The un-blockers include (the italics are mine):

  1. Create a daily ritual. Have a purpose.
  2. Set up routine cues. Make every day places and things special.
  3. Reward yourself in the right way. Celebrate responsibly.
  4. Make room for moments of positivity. Appreciate yourself.
  5. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Sometimes we need to go back to move forward.
  6. Know your triggers. Avoid mean people and time wasters.

As I read Ms. Stieg’s piece, I was struck by how well my philosophy of Vision, Mindset and Grit meshed with what the psychologists had identified as being important. I also realized that every one of us, at some point in our lives, will have our own, “personal pandemics.” These pandemics can knock us to the ground, and will un-motivate us to give up hope if we let them. For some of us it’s physical; for others it’s emotional or a devastating tragedy to ourselves or someone we love; sometimes, it’s all three.

Remembering the Moment

I remember the exact moment I awakened in my hospital bed following a horrific automobile accident in which I was a passenger. I was, one minute before the accident, a Florida State football player and competitive martial artist, and one minute after, a quadriplegic. My life, as I had known it, was over.

In that moment of awakening, I also knew that I had a choice. I chose a vision of overcoming “the pandemic” that had been dealt to me. How would I do this? By having a life’s purpose; by setting up strenuous routine to make me as whole and as well as I could be; by celebrating each triumph; by appreciating each victory of movement; by forgiving myself for slipping back or failing and most importantly, allowing no one to sit there and feel sorry for me.

I knew that to overcome the challenge of where my life had unexpectedly taken me, that I needed a singular mindset of wellness. Maybe nothing would ever be exactly the same, but in other ways, I knew it could be better and I could be stronger in purpose. I would not allow anyone to out-determine me.

How would I accomplish what I needed to accomplish? Through daily, hourly, minute-by-minute grit. I would not permit myself to be out-worked, or out-hustled.

This past year might have been the hardest you have ever faced work-wise, socially, physically or psychologically. And possibly, it came on top of another personal pandemic that previously crushed you.

My message is that you can stand-up, you can be greater than you ever thought possible, and you will succeed with vision, mindset and grit. As a Florida motivational keynote speaker, I know you can do it and that I can help.

 

To book Scott Burrows, Florida Motivational Speaker for your next event, contact him today through this website or his office at: (520) 548-1169

 

Have You Neglected Your Most Important Client?

 

As an insurance speaker and former advisor for Northwestern Mutual, I know the insurance industry fared pretty well in 2020. However, many media outlets viewed life insurance through the lens of “panic buying.”

In a piece by Greg Iacurci for CNBC (October 14, 2020) entitled “Americans are ‘panic buying’ life insurance due to coronavirus pandemic” Iacurci states:

“Insurance sales have been dwindling for years. In 2020, just over half of American adults reported having a life insurance policy, down from 63% a decade earlier…But Google Search traffic for “life insurance” jumped 50% between March and May this year compared with the same period in 2019.”

He cited growth of policy sales for major companies such as Northwestern Mutual by 15 percent, however he also noted 30 percent increases in the online insurance marketplace. The jumps in policy sales were especially strong among younger Americans. Iacurci found that,

“There was a 13% increase in life insurance applications among the under-44 age group in the third quarter versus Q3 2019, compared with a 9% jump for 45- to 59-year-olds and 0.4% in the 60-plus category.”

Where’s My Boomerang?

Close to 60 million Americans have now been vaccinated against COVID-19. While there are still several pockets of non-compliance and irresponsibility, Americans are in general more optimistic. Dominic Mastroangelo writing for The Hill (March 14, 2021) said:

“A CBS News/YouGov poll released this weekend found 64 percent of Americans say they think efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus are going well. Another 74 percent say they are excited about the prospect of businesses opening as more Americans get vaccinated against the virus.”

How then, will Americans respond to optimism in terms of insurance purchases? More importantly, how will you respond?

If the economy is projected to have more of a “V” shaped recovery and, as appears, a more optimistic outlook than at the start of the pandemic, does that mean insurance sales will see a 2021 downturn? Even if we don’t see a dramatic downturn in terms of overall sales, will online sales organizations try to crush the insurance sales rep?

Have You Neglected Your Most Important Client?

As an in-person and virtual insurance speaker and former member of the Million Dollar Round Table, I have seen the industry go through major swings.

No one in our industry can predict the future but I do know this: in 2021 your most important client is you. Unless you are completely committed to your own success, unless you have the Mindset, Vision and Grit to succeed, no economic recovery pattern will make much of a difference.

As your most important client, you must be on-board with elevating your personal brand. That means a positive mindset. Your positive mindset isn’t about being Pollyanna, for none of us can turn our backs on life’s challenges, but as a successful insurance sales rep, be aware of the trap of negative thinking. How will you, as your most important client, focus on the optimistic and not pessimistic? A negative personal brand is a virus all its own. Have the mindset that no matter what the challenge, you can be determined to overcome it.

What is your most important client’s vision for 2021? Does your client have a personal vision statement and are you ready to act on it? Why is a vision so important in insurance sales? Among many other benefits, a personal vision helps to reduce tentativeness and dread of selling and creates confidence; it reinforces your ethical principles and best of all helps you advance your sales goals.

Finally, your most important client must have grit. Grit is more than determination. It is the daily, hourly, minute-by-minute conviction that you will succeed, out-hustle, out maneuver and win against the competition.

Your most important client deserves the best. Don’t neglect them. He or she will have the best if they convince themselves to be the best no matter what this year will bring.

 

 

To hire Scott Burrows, Insurance Sales Keynote Speaker for your next in-person or virtual event, contact him today through this website or his office at: (520) 548-1169

Resilience is Forged by Determination & Grit

 

Last year in a virtual speech on resilience, I was asked if a resilient manager is the descriptor of someone without conviction or an objective.

“Oh no,” I said, “it is quite the opposite.”

In fact, as a keynote speaker on resilience, I know that the most resilient managers are determined, highly focused and always have a strong sense of purpose. To illustrate my comment, I gave her an example of a basic household item we all take for granted: the rubber band. I might start by saying that the rubber band hasn’t been made of natural rubber in decades!

Born of Vision

When we think of resilience, our minds tend to wander to elastic objects that stretch, bend and return to their original shape. But an elastic object, be it a rubber band or stretch band is first formed by heating chemical compounds, then poured into hardened steel molds, cured by steam heat and eventually cut by hard steel blades to an exacting thickness.

To make an elastic rubber band requires design, engineering, a manufacturing process, quality control and constant refinement.

The purpose of this post isn’t to teach organizations the art of rubber band making, but to illustrate that even the most flexible of objects or resilient of practices is rooted in solid ground or strong tradition or singular mindset.

While the willow tree may bend in the breeze, its strong roots do not; while the lifelong study of Tai Chi is seen as a process of flexibility and flowing movements, its practitioners are extremely aware of their core and connection to the earth.

Resilient Changes

In these times of constant change and the resilience required to meet those changes, the most successful organizations are those that cultivate three key practices: Vision, Mindset and Grit. Whether your organization is devoted to legal, accounting, healthcare or rubber band manufacturing, resilience must be deeply rooted in purpose.

Having a resilient vision means that although pandemic and recovery will cause our organizations undergo constant change this year, we must develop a plan that will connect us to “the earth” of our mission. This plan means we must be determined to be imaginative, creative, deliberate and powerful.

Having a resilient mindset requires not just our teams, but every individual on our team to work at being at their best. To be the best, we must be determined to develop a resilient mindset by honing our skills and strengths to handle with any problem or task that comes our way. The strong roots of the willow tree did not develop that way because of light breezes and plentiful water, but to cope with the changing terrain.

Developing resilient grit is to know that each day, every hour in that day we will face unexpected challenges that must be overcome. Times may change, workplace stressors and opportunities change, but grit is constant.

Resilience is forged of hard determination; to stand against the change and the challenges and ultimately to win, whether your company is involved in insurance, biotech or rubber bands. Resilience in tough times creates winners; narrow thinking or losing intent leads to failure and defeat.

 

To hire Scott Burrows, Motivational Resilience Speaker for your next in-person or virtual event, contact him today through this website or his office at: (520) 548-1169