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The 52-year old godfather of my kids stood in my kitchen and proclaimed, ‘I am embracing technology.  We are going email free.’  He was in town to do a tech incubator and over dinner was espousing the virtues of both Slack and Asana; terms that would not have been uttered from his mouth a mere 24 months ago.  He, and his wife, are in the midst of a career pivot after downsizing a previous company and going for a new tech play.

While here, a mutual friend was on the phone lamenting that he had been offered $20 million by a competitor for his company; one that came from his own pivot a few short years ago.  The friend, a grandfather with perpetual energy, resolved to go toe to toe with the suitor and proclaimed that he was either going to win or die trying.

Tony Robbins, who wrote the voluminous Money Master the Game, came out swinging against the corrupt financial industry.  His book, the first one in years, was a pivot for the ‘I’m Not Your Guru’ star and personal development icon.  People who thought that Mr. Robbins was only capable of putting people in peak state were surprised that he could pen such an insightful book on financial literacy.

Billionaires Ray Dalio and Carl Icahn, amongst others, proclaimed the book to be financial genius and as Tony Robbins pivots into the financial world with significant stake in several financial companies which include virtual CFO services and 401k plans, he is successfully shifting his paradigm to expert status in that realm.  Not bad for someone who was once washing dishes in his bathtub and does not have an MBA.

Pivots come in all sizes with the average person changing careers 5-7 times during their working years.  Whether through sheer boredom, necessity, or due to the desire to innovate, pivoting can be wildly successful or it can lead to destruction.  In my work as a speaker and trainer, I have observed pivots that have either strengthened relationships and led to a better quality of life or decimated a family.

My own career has had several incarnations.  I have been a personal trainer, prison guard at a men’s maximum security prison, parole officer, gym owner, radio and television personality, top producing sales manager for an international chain of fitness clubs, an executive director of a charity, a unicorn in the network marketing space, author, speaker, and am once again embracing a new pivot.  My objective at every instance is to elegantly pivot and not create any collateral damage so to speak.

After mentoring thousands of people, speaking in front of an average of 100,000 people per year both live and virtually, observing individuals who have either successfully pivoted or fallen flat, here are 6 tips to mastering the art of the pivot:


  1. Create a Solid 6-12 Month Plan

Where many people crash and burn in pivoting is the failure to create a solid plan.  Instead of plotting out a strategy, they rush into their new endeavor without thinking it through.  Even if you are bored with your career and your boss is driving you crazy or your company isn’t accelerating as you would like, jumping into something new without planning how you will do it is a recipe for failure.

To create a solid plan, I strongly recommend, hiring a business coach, interviewing people who are incredibly successful in the space you want to delve into, reading books on the area that you want to be in, attending a conference in that area, and getting your plan down on paper.

Before I went into network marketing full-time, and if you do not know much about that space, I will tell you that the skills required to build a massive organization – networking, selling, leadership, team building, discipline, and casting a vision, can translate to success in almost any field, I maintained my job, read books, attended seminars, listened to audios, and created a plan on my transition.

Ideally, you want to be able to pivot part-time, maintain your current income, and learn without risking your lifestyle.


  1. Ask Yourself Why You Want to Pivot

Mother Teresa once said, ‘if you have an anti-war rally, I won’t be there.  If you have a peace rally, call me.’  If you are pivoting because you are angry at your boss, or ticked off at your employees, you are doing it for the wrong reasons.  People love to follow people who are moving toward something and not solely away.

Robert Kiosaki, who wrote the mega best-seller, Rich Dad Poor Dad, took a year off after selling his educational company, to contemplate his pivot.  He thoughtfully planned what his passion was, who he could serve, and why this was important.  The book has sold more than 26 million copies worldwide and Mr. Kiosaki has shared his mission on Oprah and every major media outlet.

Moving toward something more fulfilling where we can serve a greater number of people is essential.  Journal on your why.  Speak to a coach or strategist.  Allow yourself to get feedback until you are certain of your true reasons.


  1. Plan for ‘Messy’

Regardless of how we plan for our pivot, there will be unexpected surprises.  These may come in the form of an unsupportive partner, financial obligations that we were not anticipating, staffing issues, supply chain challenges, and a host of complications that we didn’t see coming.

Before you go full tilt into your new endeavor, save at least 6 months of living expenses, have a solid conversation with your family, and most importantly know that during this time, you will likely be putting in longer days.

Lastly, take care of your health.  I have had two friends who became ill during their pivots.  One had a heart attack and the other died of cancer.  You might be burning the candle at both ends so to speak and this is why getting your workout in, fasting one day per week, taking your vitamins, and guzzling greens drinks instead of caffeine filled beverages all day long, is essential.


  1. Use Your Network

Multiple NY Times Best Selling author, Harvey Mackay, has said that if he lost everything tomorrow, he would have it back within two years as long as he had his network.  Regardless of the magnitude of the pivot, our network is essential. There will inherently be things that we do not know and almost one hundred percent of the time, someone in our network either knows how to do what we require, or they know someone who does.

Recently, I was at a hot yoga class with my Gordie.  He was asking me about my own goals and who I wanted to model.  One of my entrepreneurial spirit animals is Sara Blakely, doyenne of Spanx.  Gordie looked at me, a glint in his eyes, and proclaimed, I am being mentored by her husband, Jesse Itzler.  Now, I am one person away from meeting Ms. Blakely.  Thank you Gordie.

Prior to a full pivot, I recommend making a list of influential people in your network.  Write out exactly what their skills and strengths are.  Reach out, interview people, and ask them to weigh in on your pivot.


  1. Chart Your Progress

When people pivot, they often want massive results right away.  I counsel my clients to work in phases.  Being specific with quantifying the phase by listing out the metrics that will measure progress in that phase.  For example, it might be client acquisition, revenue, staff hiring, speaking events booked, podcasts created, blogs written, a book created, or a combination of the all of these.

Another key aspect of charting your progress is self-discovery.  If you are constantly evaluating your metrics, you can easily course correct if something is off.  Furthermore, you have a chronicle of your pivot so that you can eventually mentor others once you become successful.


  1. Figure Out How to Add Value Along the Way

The amount of success we experience is directly related to the amount of value we give.  Recently, I interviewed best-selling author, Bob Burg, who wrote the highly acclaimed book, The Go Giver.  One of the key premises of Mr. Burg’s tale is value and how we can live a life where we continuously provide more in value than we expect in return.

For people who are pivoting, this may feel challenging with so many items to handle at once.  Adding value doesn’t have to look daunting.  It can be simply taking the time to acknowledge the

housekeeper at a your hotel, writing a love note to your child, putting your phone away and truly listening to your partner, or going into every business transaction with a heart to serve and not the notion to take.

A habit I have recently embraced is asking myself how I can add more value.  This has led me to come up with ideas that can serve our clients at a higher level, innovate, and naturally generate more business.

In this world, there are givers, takers, and people who sadly have no impact on our lives whatsoever.  At the end of the day, regardless of how we perceive the optics, those who create, and sustain, that greatest amount of success have figured out a way to add massive amounts of value.


Is your company looking for a speaker to to do more than temporarily motivate your team?  Are you looking for someone who will create a lasting impact and be a catalyst for transformation in the area of work-life balance?  Companies are investing more in work-life balance strategies as a means to create greater employee satisfaction, improve retention, and add value.

Susan Sly is a highly acclaimed trainer, coach, and transformational speaker.  She limits her speaking engagements and having Susan come into your company is by application only.  She specializes in work-life balance and NLP business strategy.

You can apply to have Susan come and speak at your event or company by taking the first key step – clicking the button below.


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Susan Sly

Author Susan Sly

Susan Sly is considered a thought leader in AI, award winning entrepreneur, keynote speaker, best-selling author, and tech investor. Susan has been featured on CNN, CNBC, Fox, Lifetime, ABC Family, and quoted in Forbes Online, Marketwatch, Yahoo Finance, and more. She is the mother of four and has been working in human potential for over two decades.

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