Iron Mike on Planning

April 23, 2020 Steve 0 Comments

Things are not going according to plan. Mike Tyson saw this coming. “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

I have a video conference shortly. An infant is sleeping on my chest. My haircut is conspicuously DIY. It has been two months since my last handshake and even longer since my last business trip. I did not see this coming.

Like millions of others, I now work remotely. Several projects have been postponed or cancelled altogether. I must find new opportunities or create them myself.

My April was supposed to be a paternity break before jumping back into a demanding travel schedule. As of now, my only planned flight is October. Even that trip is tentative.

The plan was to spend February and March traveling back and forth between USA, Hong Kong, and the broader Asia Pacific region. I cancelled those flights.

The foundation of my plan was a transition away from Hong Kong’s start up ecosystem earlier this year. This community had been shifting focus to become more China-centric. The English speaking world (and others) had already begun a gradual decoupling with China. The pandemic increased the pressure and pace of that decoupling.

My plan was to build upon my strengths as a Hong Kong-based professional with broader Asia Pacific operating experience and deep ties to “the West”. I positioned myself as a resource already on the ground as overseas companies were reducing their footprint to “right-size” their presence in Greater China.

I still do that. But being “on the ground” matters a lot less when you don’t leave your home.

I was in Sydney when Australia got its first four cases of COVID-19. I flew back to Hong Kong which had a rising caseload. I postponed my other travel plans. I was not about to risk long quarantines and outright travel bans while my wife was in her last 2 months of pregnancy.

I’ll skip the bits you can figure out for yourself. In summary, countries were locked down, projects canceled or delayed indefinitely, and I have a bit more time on my hands then expected.

But I have no complaints. My baby is here, and he’s awesome. My family is safe and healthy. I appreciate this quality time together. Plus I am fortunate to still have work. No, I won’t meet planned revenue targets for Q1 &2. But it could be far worse.

The world is changing as I am changing careers (and diapers). Stability is comfortable, but change is exciting. So is a punch in the mouth.

I have several decades of career ahead of me. If I use this time right, those years will be more productive than I ever planned.

Did your plan prepare you for this?