By Younas Chaudhary
1. Change brings unique opportunities
Change in human life is constant. It impacts our daily lives, and it is a universal phenomenon that we cannot avoid or escape. It is called by different names; one apparent and commonly used name is “disruption”. Our lives get constantly disrupted, and in my own life’s journey, change has been my constant companion.
The first major change in my life happened when my father decided to move our family from a remote village to a town in Pakistan. My father was forced to make that change because of a family dispute that turned ugly. His unwanted decision led our family to experience city life, and from that springboard I immigrated to Canada in 1973. This is why I am here writing this blog several decades later! My father’s one simple forced decision to make a change for our family radically disrupted fate for generations to come. That simple disruption brought so many opportunities to build a better life for our family in general, and it allowed me to grow as an individual as well.
Another important change happened in my life when in 1979 I moved from Canada to the US to start an opportunity in the oil and gas business in Kansas. I was living a rather comfortable middle-class life in Edmonton, Canada when I suddenly decided to take this step. This change forced me to leave my comfort zone, and I had to quickly adjust to a unique opportunity in front of me!
That change came with lots of great opportunities to learn a new trade from a scratch, gain knowledge, build experience, learn the hard way through failures, and succeed as a businessman. As we work on new deals, remember to stay open to changes in our lives as well as in our internal and external environments.
2. Change can be uncomfortable
Change can lead to a lot of discomfort, with new changes that upend our regular lives in so many ways. For example, when I first immigrated from Pakistan to Edmonton, Canada in winter of 1973, I shifted my life from a mostly 106-degree Fahrenheit environment to a deep-freezing subzero environment. I had to get quickly adjusted to the brutal Canadian cold, in an alien culture, and both were initially extremely uncomfortable.
But I believe that, as new immigrants, we adapt to sudden changes much faster than any other species on Earth! For us, change is the only constant, and the best way to survive is to learn, adapt, mix, and grow. I knew little English and faced racial discrimination as the locals regarded me as a strange “Paki”. Suddenly I had to find a place to live, look for a job, buy a car, pay bills, and learn to survive in a brand-new culture. On many days I hated this change, felt depressed, and suffered loneliness. I longed to see my parents, who were 6,300 miles away. And, on really bad days, I even wondered whether I should just give up and return to Pakistan. However, deep inside me, I had the desire and urge to succeed. I knew that the discomfort of change is temporary, and I had to make it through. This was a lesson in patience and persistence, in the long run it was an opportunity for me to succeed through consistent hard work.
3. Change brings grit
Change comes at us fast, and sometimes we need to act like a boxer dodging a punching bag. We try to dodge change in one area of our lives, and the punching bag swings back at us from a different direction. I believe we need to use grit, be resilient, and learn to handle and adjust to uncomfortable changes that come our way. Each time we fall, we have to get back on our feet with even more determination than before. When oil price hit the floor of $8 a barrel in the mid-eighties, I knew I had to change and revise my course. I faced it with grit, leading me to start investments in real estate holdings.
As I write today, the punching bag is coming at me from all sides of my business, from oil and gas investments to real estate, as I am dealing with Covid-19 and its ongoing impact on everyone’s lives. I can assure you that we all are forced to make certain quick decisions as we face change in an uncertain world. My best option is to show grit, do the hard work, be consistent, focus on the long-term, and know that you cannot be shaken easily. This is certainly true in business when you are looking at a new deal, you will often encounter changes to its structure, terms, payout, timeline, and so forth.
4. Change brings momentum
Change brings momentum and a sense of excitement that keeps us going! Over the years, I have fully enjoyed the thrill of a rollercoaster ride in my oil and gas business. We were either up or down but never at a standstill. Wouldn’t we all prefer a rollercoaster ride with more positive, life-changing bright events and happiness, instead of being stuck on a hamster wheel? Our energy industry has seen such a great momentum of changes, from old vertical well drilling practices to horizontal well drilling, new fracking techniques, and numerous other technological innovations. Every day, the way we do business is changing, and sometimes like you I find it hard to keep up with the times! Structuring deals now requires a quick pace of adjusting to the current market’s needs. How do I work with lenders to keep up with the pace of what is currently happening? How can I be smart and agile and quickly adapt to a change? These are questions I ask daily as I confront numerous changes in the way business is done.
5. Have an end goal, but be prepared for a change
In the process of making a deal, you will see numerous changes happen in the current economic climate and the way consumers behave. Always begin with an end goal in mind but be prepared to face and make changes. A recent example is Airbnb, which in 2019 had a market valuation of $35 billion and had announced that it would go public in 2020.They were met with a sudden change in form of Covid-19, and that put an abrupt stop to their goal of having an IPO in 2020. The pandemic put a screeching halt to their end goal of going for an IPO and raising money to scale their business. As travelers around the world were forced to cut movement due to a change, Airbnb’s end goal likewise was, at least for now, wiped away.
Be prepared, despite all our best efforts and hard work, change can bring us a lot of surprises, and our best option is to be prepared!
Stay tuned for Tip #5: Negotiations Are Key!
Find out more about me in my best -selling book “From dirt roads to black gold.” Note that 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of this book will help people in need through my foundation, the YBC Foundation.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity whatsoever with which I have been , am now or will be affiliated.
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