Lessons learnt in 2020

2020 has been a memorable year to, probably, every human on this earth. From hundreds of people dying each day to the economic downturn as a consequence, COVID19 has shaken the world never like before. With the news flowing about the success of COVID19 vaccines and countries purchasing them, we are hoping the “new normal” of putting the mask, maintaining the distance, cutting down the travel, and implementing many other precautionary plans will be gone over within a couple of months or at least a year. Better late than never, as they say: “This shall too pass.”

It truly wasn’t an easy year for anybody. So was it for this blogger. Beginning the year by leaving the role as a co-founder of the company started together with the school-friends and staying home for 3-4 complete months, 2020 was a year of a new start for this blogger in multiple ways. Let me share a few of the lessons that I learned and the realizations I made in 2020.

  1. The world can shut down: 

COVID19 has made all of us realize the extent to which things worsen. There is this new definition for the world of how bad things can go. We might have to crumble into our homes and apartments for months that too without a job. Countries can shut down, literally close down! Traveling or moving around in public can be a nightmare. Millions of us can lose our lives. These are the extremes that we now really know could happen.

2. There are hidden opportunities in crisis:

COVID19 did accelerate the e-commerce sector. Not only did it temporarily spike the revenues for these businesses but also did introduce many consumers into the eCommerce world. To a larger extent, this impact shall now remain forever. Even for countries like Nepal, where the use of tech was nothing more than an “extravagant” trend, the pandemic made the government realize the need for digitization. Had there been proper digital systems in place there would not be so many manual hassles such as paying the taxes, renewing the vehicles/driving license, distributing the travel passes during the lockdown, and tracking/controlling the COVID19 cases. Thanks to the initiators of Nepali digital wallets like eSewa and Khalti who broke the barriers and were well setup long before the crises. Else, neither would the banks so far would care to have a proper mobile app nor would we have any other source to facilitate cashless payments.

3. Patience is the key:

COVID really tested the level of patience in me. While I left the company as a cofounder, I thought I would start working after a good break of a month or two. But things didn’t turn out the way I thought. I had rejected quite a few offers that I received before the pandemic and had almost gotten into the job I wanted. Unfortunately, COVID took those positions away. I had to wait for over 5 months to land into a new job. Definitely, you don’t get to work at all the places you want to but I did get offers from some of the companies I wanted to get into (I rejected them. But that’s a different story). Amid the crisis, I got an opportunity to facilitate a class of undergraduate students too. The other side of the story is that I stayed home with little or no work for 3-4 months while I even hated to stay home on Saturdays. Now, that I work from home, staying at home for four days a week on average is the “new normal” for me. Nothing is forever – neither was the lockdown nor is the pandemic. Things will get better or we will get used to with this.

4. There is no destiny:

There is no destiny in life. 

Let’s put this simple. 

We do whatever we do to achieve something. We believe that this “something” will provide us happiness and keep us content in life. But happiness is not something to be achieved in the future. There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way. Don’t plan to get happy, and just be happy with whatever you have right now.

5. Keep your life in between reactive and proactive path:

Karna Shakya posted a status on his Facebook which really summed up the realization I made this year. Here’s the translated version of what he said:

“As you get old you don’t need a reason. My back hurt the whole night and I came to my Karma-Kunj early in the morning to get over my pain. I sat on the table hoping that if I can think of something else, I could forget my pain, and I opened my heart (thought). Slowly, I delved into my thoughts. I wrote whatever came to my mind.

Time supported me in a decent manner in my life. I played a lot as a kid, fell in love numerous times, traveled around, danced, and did many more. In reality, you don’t have to wait for the right time to work and to learn. You can gain knowledge, wealth, name, and keep up with your life at any time. However, those are not only the future of your endeavor. Now, at the age of 78, I am getting lost in the nooks-and-crannies of philosophy.

Religion, philosophy, -ism isn’t the truth. These are just shadows of verticles, views, and perspectives. There is no truth, there is only perception. Whoever can convince others, is the right. In this ostentatious life, we do need these types of perks because we need reasons to live and add romance to a boring life. However, our life is directed by truth, not philosophy.

Realistic people are of two types – Reactive and Proactive. Reactive are those who are rapturous, do not care about the future, and live in the present. They enjoy the principle of “Don’t ask me about tomorrow. Only the good will happen.” To be true, even this is one of the precise ways and a style of living a happy life.

Proactive people are aware and prefer to live for tomorrow rather than today. Sometimes they even tend to get lost in ideas while contemplating. They do climb the mountain of success but get lost in the clouds. That’s why after passing through these seven decades, the experiences of my life are now pushing me to walk through the glorious mid-way of the Reactive and the Proactive path.”

That’s exactly where I decided to stand after a year of contemplation. There are few things (not many either) to be achieved in life but not at the cost of giving up things that keep me happy at present. It’s a balance of present happiness and the zeal to achieve something in the future that keeps me going. Not too much, and not too less – Lagom.

6. One step at a time:

My reasonings worked in a deductive manner defining the consequence without thinking much about other ways to get things done. I realized that this has really pulled me back from achieving or doing a lot of things. Someone to me said “We don’t do more of planning. We do and then plan.” This is where I have started to focus. I do know I need to climb Mt.Everest. Had I been the previous me, everyday I would plan and think of reaching the top spending significant time in thinking if what/how I planned is the right way to get to the top. Further, every time I would think of summiting Everest, I would be unsure about my ability to get to the top. However, now, I plan the path once but plan on reaching a certain milestone every day. I deal with smaller chunks of larger problems each day. This not only keeps me going but also helps me focus and deal with a piece of the problem. While the ultimate goal of clinching the peak is in the back of my mind, much of my thoughts, energy, and ideas are preparing to take one more step to move ahead.

I believe these six lessons are enough to move ahead for a couple of years. After a couple of years, I shall once again revisit the past and redefine the philosophy of life as things change within and around me. Until then, amen! 

Marketing during the time of Corona

The world currently has the greatest number of people who have “free-time” and are using the internet more than ever. If you run a business and were thinking of the best time for you to revamp or begin with a fantastic plan to have a digital presence for your brand or business, this can just be the right time.

Corona Virus (COVID19) has thrown the world out of the league. It has hit many of the businesses worldwide. Hit so hard that not only many of the SMEs are struggling to survive, but also quite a few of the larger corporations and businesses are hardly pulling this off. If this pandemic doesn’t show the sign of going away anytime soon, the world after this wave of COVID19 might be a very different one, a complete paradigm shift in terms of human development. However, as a friend of mine said a few days back, “This shall too pass.” 

Right now, many of us are running our offices establishing a work-from-home policy, and many of us have also completely halted our operations. Never had the world before this time had seen so many of us working from home. The world currently has the greatest number of people who have “free-time” and are using the internet more than ever. If you run a business and were thinking of the best time for you to revamp or begin with a fantastic plan to have a digital presence for your brand or business, this can just be the right time. And, if you still think your business does not need to “go digital”, you might want to give another thought about it.

With over a billion population staying at home working or using video streaming channels like Netflix or Youtube, ISPs are being tasted with their ability to manage bandwidth for everyone. In a bid to alleviate the potential congestion, Facebook joined Netflix, Amazon, and Youtube to reduce its default video quality in Europe on March 23. A report by CNBC states that over 60% of data transmitted over the internet account to video streaming. This is mostly because videos have a larger file size than other types of files. Yet, this is the time when the number of daily active users and the daily active session per user is at its peak. Facebook and Twitter have already reported this over the media. This clearly means there is no better time than now to reach your targeted audience through digital platforms.

Over 3.3 million US citizens filed for unemployment benefits last week. Not just the U.S., gig economy has pretty much stalled around the globe raising the level of unemployment and sunken level of earnings. There is only a small amount of discretionary income available in the hands of people and they are going to spend it in a wise manner. Thus, unless you are a product or a service provider for the basic necessities, your marketing efforts should focus not on promotions and advertisements to sell your products or service but on public service announcements (PSAs) and non-profit initiations intending to give a boost to the level of brand awareness. Impressive and interesting messages will not only keep your business or brand in the mind of the customers but will also allow your business to polish the brand image.

Similarly, if you are yet to have your business presence on social media platforms, now is the time to start. And if you do have an account that hasn’t been done much, working on the content and posting updates is what you should start doing at this time. As mentioned earlier, the greatest number of people are “online” at this period of crisis and you can leverage this time to show the level of concern you have over your customers. Depending on the type of user-base suitable for your business, you can go ahead in creating accounts over several platforms. One thing you shall however remember is that the initial state of setting up accounts and making posts over these channels is more about diving into content marketing and not throwing in ads or offers. Content marketing is not more about conversions but is more about building relationships and keeping the engagements at a high level with your target audience.

Before you dive into preparing and posting content over the platforms, it is highly recommended that you look into the dynamics of each of the platforms as each of these might have a different target-audience to look into and require more-or-less a different content and strategy to succeed. You may look into some of the interesting tips from Social Media Examiner’s Youtube channel which I find to be concise and extremely useful in terms of developing content and building engagements across multiple channels.

Make sure you have your presence over Facebook – that’s where the biggest crowd is right now. Also, do not forget that search engines have a major role to play in your digital presence. Conduct SEO audits for your website if you can, or get the help of the experts. In my case, I always provide a list of checkpoints for my clients to look into as a part of the basic SEO audit. Optimize your website based on the results of the audit. Another thing to remember is that Youtube is the second most popular search engine. Thus, your presence on Youtube might be of great help, and with Instagram’s IGTV gaining popularity you may use shorter versions or similar content over both of these channels.

Leveraging these strategies might not pay off in the short run, yet these are sure to turn into an invaluable asset as the world dives further into the digital and augmented world over time. As they say, better late than never.

Originally, this article was previously published on Medium.