Every summer I completely understand why tropical countries tend to move at a slower pace than ones further from the equator. Of course the Vikings went on raiding expeditions – what else were they going to do during nine months of Nordic winters? I live in Michigan, where we only get six months of decent weather every year, and every fiber of my being is telling me to go sit in a hammock and enjoy it while it’s here. Apparently the rest of the country agrees, because summer is always the slow season in the speaking world. Kids are out of school, families plan more vacations, and so companies plan fewer conferences than they do the rest of the year. In fact, last month I attended the National Speakers Association conference, which is always in late July and where a couple thousand people like me can get together and distract ourselves from the fact that we’re not working as much as we usually are.
And on top of that, my wife has been on maternity leave for the last three months, which means both she and my infant daughter have been in the house all day long at the same time I’m supposed to be working. My office is only semi-separated from the rest of our house, so I get to hear all the crying and cooing and occasional requests from my wife to bring her something while she feeds our daughter. Plus spending time with my girls sounds way more fun than working, and the fact that it’s the slow season doesn’t help.
Add all this up, and there are a lot of factors encouraging me to simply lean into the summer and work as little as possible. Which sounds great, except for the tiny problem that my business will suffer and ultimately die if I act that way for long enough.
I know I’m not alone here. So in case you’re trying to figure out what to work on when there doesn’t seem to be anything worth working on, here are a couple thoughts:
This gets overlooked so often. I’m a speaker, so my job should be to travel and write and build presentations – except that every business is relational, and I can’t forget how important it is to keep in contact with the sprawling network of agents and clients and service providers who collectively help my business function. Plus I can make phone calls in a hammock, or while playing with my daughter, or while getting lunch ready. It’s basically the perfect solution, and I’ve done a better job this summer of staying in touch than I have for quite a while. Thanks, slow season!
Explore New Options!
Downtime is the perfect time to see what else might be out there. In my case, I’ve spent the summer working on expanding the video training side of our business – meeting vendors, making phone calls (there’s that pesky phone thing again!), and architecting out our new round of training programs. None of that work is going to pay dividends right now, but it absolutely will a few months from now. In other words, the busy season is when I take advantage of all the building I do during the slow season.
You could spend your slow time on a boat, or taking naps, or hanging out with your friends and family. And you definitely should. But you should also spend some of that time staring at a few of the questions that continually pop up while you’re doing your job. Most of us don’t feel like we have adequate time to think while we’re busy working – but hey, you’re not busy right now!
I hope this helps. I also want you to know that I’ve written this entire article while sitting in my backyard, listening to the wind in the trees on a sunny 75-degree day. Victory is mine!