Kelechi Anyalechi, a qualified and licensed trainer/coach, has been a very active professional in the human capacity development space for about 10 years. He has served as a personal coach and advisor to junior, mid and senior level management staff of blue chip companies as well as business professionals.
He is the founder of REVAMP Africa, a non-profit organisation focused on providing education, leadership and enterprise development skills to young people through different programmes. In the past four years alone, REVAMP has impacted over 100,000 students in different parts of the country through unique programmes and initiatives. A prolific author, he has published about 11 books. Another three will be published one month from now. Through Young High Flyer Academy, he runs coaching sessions for preteens and teenagers, who are groomed to become confident, resilient, excellent youngsters.
In the wake of COVID-19, we now hear talk about the “new normal” and one wonders what it means.
The COVID-19 pandemic came unplanned and shook the whole world affecting almost every area of life. The new normal cuts across how we are expected to relate with each other, communicate, travel and even how work mode would become.
What are the implications of the new normal for individuals, families and corporates in Nigeria?
As countries around the world reopen the economy gradually, the new normal has both negative and positive impacts on individual, families and organisations here in Nigeria. Many organisations have been affected adversely already. Till now, there are certain restrictions on businesses. Cash flow has been affected leading to job losses and folding up of some organisations. Feeding and funds for healthcare and other important aspects may become a challenge for some families. The schools are still shut down. While some children are enjoying online learning, there are many other children (larger population) who do not have access to this style of learning for obvious reasons. It’s been one of my major concerns. The positive impact is that pressure can help bring out the best out of people. Many people are thinking outside the box and coming up with innovative solutions to stay afloat in this season.
Are there practical strategies people can adopt to enable them survive and thrive under the emerging realities? Please give some explanation.
I am certain that whatever anyone focuses on expands over time. If you focus on how to survive in these present times, you may just get the little crumbs. If you focus on how to thrive, your mind will open up to greater opportunities. The truth is that some people have made more money legitimately within the past few months of lockdown than they made through last year. When the lockdown started in Nigeria, I was empathetic with people. I imagined how people would have been down psychologically and emotionally. I was not one of those pushing for anyone to learn new skills, take online courses and all. The mental imbalance was a given. At this time, I do not expect anyone to remain in such state. The world is moving on and many adjustments are being made. Cashflow is king. At a time like this, you can think of how you can be involved in the supply chain. There are many businesses that may take time to pick up for different reasons. If you play within that industry, you cannot afford to fold your arms waiting. The reality is that this new normal would make many businesses become obsolete. Innovation will keep businesses afloat and liquidity for individuals.
I am privileged to be the founder of a non-profit organisation, REVAMP Africa. All up till the lockdown, our high impact work had been focused on children in schools. Most of our work in the past was in public secondary schools. Imagine the large population. We were almost rounding off one of our projects where we reached 90,000 students across the 36 states before the schools were shut down.
The lockdown affected our work a great deal. We did not allow our minds go to sleep for one minute.
I held a strategy meeting with our National Executive Support Team. We had to come up with several ways we would still make quality impact even if we are not allowed access into the schools for the next one year. By the time we were done with the meeting, everyone was excited and looking forward to implementation. The problems caused by this pandemic have opened opportunities for Nigerians. It depends on what and how you see things.
For people who may lose their jobs as a result of reorganisation in companies, what advice do you have for them?
This is painful. It has started already and there will be many more job losses. I am not a prophet of doom. It is part of the new normal. For example, there are many organisations that had their members of staff working remotely. Many of them want to retain this status quo. The implication of remote work is obvious. There is no clear cut ‘one-size fits all’ to help people who have lost or may lose their jobs. My first advice is for them to be stable emotionally and mentally. If you lose it in these two critical areas, it may be difficult to bounce back or be open to other opportunities. The days of trouble for some people are opportunities for others. Despite the state of the economy, people are making more money, getting new jobs and starting profitable businesses. Do your research and discover the critical needs of organisations. Develop the necessary skill set and be ready to apply for other jobs. For some people, the job loss may be the trigger for them to start up that dream business they have nursed for years.
What skills do they need to acquire now, and going forward, to enable them remain relevant in their organisations or even start new ventures of their own with some degree of confidence?
With the right mind-set and emotional stability, great things can happen. At the point where we are, almost everyone needs to develop tech-related skills. It is needed more now than ever. The pandemic has made many organisations revise their business models, to embrace technology. Remote work will continue and become the new normal. This is a good time to shine in your organisation. Think of ways you can help your organisation make more money, reduce their expenditure, increase the brand visibility or market share. You will remain relevant and even grow. I read of a Nigerian who got a job last month in the United States. He is expected to resume and start working remotely from here for the next two or three months depending on travel advice. The moment the travel bans are lifted, he would be moving to the United States. I checked him out on LinkedIn and found something interesting. He had just finished a course on remote work skills in the month of April. He was smart enough to prepare himself ahead of time. Three other important skills I will like to mention here are adaptability, flexibility and resilience. They are needed now more than ever. I believe this is another time for people to look inwards and discover inert skills or learn, as long as they are relevant to man’s basic needs for survival. Another important skill needed is financial intelligence. We need to know how to make smart decisions in regards to expenditure, savings and investments.
These are interesting times to be alive. Learn from this journey. Soak in the pressure but ensure you come out a better person. A major need for most people every day is money. Despite the fact that the state of things has become bad, money has not disappeared. It only changed hands. Let it change and come to you legitimately. It was Robert Schuller who said this: “Tough times never last, but tough people do.”