Podcast #226 – My Observations from 26 Coffee Meetings
I just returned from a 4 week trip to Austin Texas where my wife and I were vaccinated, I renewed my Texas driver’s license and took care of a lot of other business.
I put out the word that I was interested in having meetings with anyone who wanted to chat with me while I was in Austin to my email list and to my personal Facebook page. I had 26 people take me up on the offer over a 4 week period.
What I found was based on their age, relationship status, health, and their employment status how they dealt with the pandemic, and more importantly, how they were emerging from the pandemic varied widely. I want to take you through my discussions and what I learned about them and myself.
This episode is sponsored by Career Pivot. Check out the Career Pivot Community. Make sure and pick up my latest book, Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for the 2nd Half of Life Third Edition.
Now on to the podcast…
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A Few of the Discussions
- There was a coffee meeting indoors with Michael O’Krent who runs a business called, Life Stories Alive. Mike is a very good listener. One of the things I discovered was that I had forgotten how to really listen. I talked with Thom Singer before the meetings and he said when he went to his first event, he felt very awkward going up to people, talking, and asking questions. If we’re having this problem, you may be too.
- I met with a former neighbor who I have coached on and off for the last eight or nine years. She had quit her job prior to the pandemic due to burnout. Then, the Pandemic hit. She has mostly been sitting at home. She is not doing well mentally, has gained weight, and developed hip problems. There are many more people like her. They are single, in their 50’s and have been living by themselves during the Pandemic. This isn’t good.
- Another chat was with a man with who our kids played soccer together 30-some years ago. He is now retired and doing well. He was simply waiting for his wife to retire.
- There was a good talk with my property manager and his wife (my realtor). They had a great year in 2020. They are a typical small business and gave up their office space to work remotely. They will probably never go back to the office.
- I met with a man in his late 40’s. He is a typical Generation X – came from divorced parents, never married – and was a writer. He said he’s had enough. He has enough money to go multiple years without working so he’s taking master-level courses and is out exploring what he wants to do next. The Pandemic made him pull the plug on something he didn’t enjoy and he was very comfortable with his decision.
- Then I met with an old client that had gone through some very serious illness. He is one of many who got vaccinated very early and then didn’t go out and do anything for a very long time. I was surprised at the number of people that had been vaccinated for 2-4 months but they hadn’t gone out. It was their first meeting outside of their house. I think we will see many people that will be uncomfortable going back to what was the “normal” relationship-building type of environment. A lot of this is based on their health status, how much cable news they watched, or how much fear they have for their health or family member’s health.
- I met with a former client in his late 40’s early 50’s. He, his wife, and his kids have done very well. They have bonded more because they went outside hiking and exploring state parks. It’s been an opportunity to get to know their kids better.
- A good friend of mine from the Metropolitan Breakfast Club met with me as well. She is 65 and retired during the pandemic. She worked part-time doing bookkeeping during the Pandemic and did not venture out to even go to the grocery store. Everything was delivered to her. That seems to be a common trend. For people living by themselves, it was easy to become very isolated. They start losing their skill on how to be social. This is a real challenge.
- One person I met was a financial advisor with a major finance company. He had been working from home during the Pandemic and has really liked it. Now, they have to go back to the office. He saves 7-9 hours per week by working at home and he didn’t lose anything by working this way. Many companies are asking most of their people back and many employees don’t like it.
- Elizabeth Rebaey who has been on this podcast (and I’m having back), was working for an international mining company and running their trade shows. Of course, those trade shows died during the pandemic and she got laid off. Due to the relationships she had from those trade shows, she did find other work. During this past year, she was isolated but she’s done ok with weight and sanity and ended up landing a job with Flex. She’s having a blast.
- I had coffee with an old bicycling buddy. He is in his early 50s, works for a major university, and had been vaccinated many months before I met with him. When we showed up, he was double-masked. He was in pretty good health. I wouldn’t have thought he’d be worried about getting out. It’s not always the people you’d expect that are uncomfortable getting back into society.
- I met with a previous coworker. She’s retired, gardening, and thinking of moving to the pacific northwest. Her husband can work remotely so they’re thinking they’d go somewhere they love.
- There was a great conversation with our good friends from our condo area. One works for a major nursing home facility. I can’t imagine the stress she’s gone through.
- There was also a man in his late 40’s that used to work in the finance industry but had been a resume writer for years. This Pandemic pushed him into being a coach. He’s already turned in his resignation with a 2 months notice. These are radical decisions but well-thought-out.
- I met with my web design people. The day we met was the owner’s full vaccination date. I was the first person she met outside.
- I also met someone I knew for many years and I noticed that I was starting to do a much better job of listening and being more interested in them. That was something.
- Had a drink with a former client who had been dealing with an ill mother. He now wants to reenter the job market. The advice given was to approach people in the field you want, explain what you’ve been doing, and ask them how to approach it now. That would at least start the conversation.
- I met with a dear friend from leadership class. Her husband had overdosed during the pandemic so she sold the house and bought another one. This would have been hard on anyone at any time, but I saw those people that were dealing with very difficult situations during the pandemic go through trials such as this. Some dealt with it well and others not so much.
Mental Results of Pandemic
My buddy lost his wife this past year and his daughter went to her sophomore year in college. He hasn’t lived by himself since he was a teenager.
I asked a psychologist friend for a referral, which he said he could give, however, he told me everyone was full. Mental health is a major issue coming out of this Pandemic.
Thom Singer talked about reintegrating into society. He said one thing that could be done is to start out by picking the people you want to be with first and to be in control of the situation.
Think about how comfortable you are and think about what’s stopping you from meeting people.
Be kind to yourself about exercising those social muscles.
I struggled initially, but I slowly got better over time.
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