Got Stuck? Learn To Pivot From The Kentucky Derby And The Derby Diversity Business Summit

Established in 1875, the Kentucky Derby is the longest-running sporting event in the U.S.A. The iconic horse race always takes place the first weekend in May. And few would deny the financial and entertainment success of this event.

In standard years, the race is preceded by a month of celebrations and festivals and attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators.

This year the pandemic prompted tradition-busting pivots in the Derby. Instead of running the race the first weekend of May, the date since 1946, the event kicked off the first weekend in September.

The famous racetrack, Churchill Downs, saw only a handful of horse owners and trainers on race day, absent the enormous crowds of fans and spectators.

Like Derby organizers, many business owners, entrepreneurs, and leaders are pivoting.

Have you learned anything from the current upheavals?

What Have You Learned from Your Pivot?

The world we knew only a few short months ago is on-hold, at best, and turned on its head, at worst. Yet enhanced resilience is available for those who will learn.

Put in the time to reflect and plan for using your new-found wisdom.

Example: Derby Diversity Business Summit

Over the past few years, minority, women, LGBTQ, veteran, and disabled business leaders came together during Derby week for the Derby Diversity Business Summit (DDBS).

While benefiting from the Kentucky Derby festivities, the event’s purpose is to provide business opportunities for company owners and leaders.

Founder, Tawana Bain, says the Summit offers a venue for attendees to share ideas and economic opportunities frequently unavailable to diverse communities.

However, no surprise, this year, the DDBS was different.

The Summit pivoted.

This year the DDBS moved to a digital platform. And, like the Kentucky Derby race, launched the first week of September instead of the traditional first week of May.

The conference organizers adopted a theme focusing on how unity helped businesses pivot successfully to serve their communities during the pandemic.

Speakers and panels addressed issues such as how they dealt with the sudden pandemic-related predicaments. They also described learning from turning points.

Most significantly, they talked about how they will use their new-found wisdom going forward.

March Madness

All panelists who own companies talked about how their businesses halted in March.

A disabled business leader said she had to take on debt for the first time to avoid laying off her employees. She found this unfamiliar level of risk to be scary yet necessary.

A financial advisor told how he reeled from his inability to meet his clients face-to-face. In the beginning, he thought the relationship building and trust required for doing business in his industry needed face-time.

A successful entrepreneur mentioned holding back the new business venture she and her wife had been ready to launch. They felt substantial disappointment.

A small business owner reported a long list of barriers. However, she said, the immobilizing challenge was her deteriorating mental health. Her anxiety and depression over the crazy circumstances paralyzed action. The more she withdrew from work, the greater her depression.

A professional in the entertainment industry lost all her work and the money she counted on to survive.

Turning Points

Some experienced more dramatic turning points than others.

” I realized that I was holding faulty assumptions about what I needed to do to succeed in my business,” offered the financial advisor. “I found that my clients welcomed my outreach, even though not face-to-face.” It took courage to reach out in what he considered a colder method, but it paid off in stronger relationships.

The entertainer took advantage of free online training available to her through her home city. By acting, she is holding the anxiety of her loss of job and income at bay while she determines her next steps.

A marketing problem-solver and crisis communication specialist relayed how he discovered the power of reaching out. He found asking how he could help others and how they might help him to be empowering.

The small business owner with mental health challenges had an epiphany. Suddenly, she realized that what was happening to her and her business paled compared with the pandemic and racial tensions creating upheavals across her community, the country and the world.

She gave up trying to get her client projects back on track and pivoted. She identified the personal and business assets she could offer to assist others with their crises. And she gave away some services to those who had the greatest needs.

Learning and Growing

These turning points stimulated personal and professional growth.

Nevertheless, the panelists acknowledged they don’t have answers for every situation that challenges them. Their pivots are works in progress.

However, the recognition of their turning points is strengthening their resolve and resilience.

While not looking much beyond the immediate future, they are hopeful.

Examine Your Pivot and Enhance Your Resilience

Use this Labor Day holiday to follow the DDBS speakers’ lead and reflect on your pivots.

What has worked and what has not? How will you use what you have learned?

Chances are, many of the challenges described by the panelists resemble those you faced in the beginning. And, like the panelists, most likely, you are at various stages of addressing them.

Nevertheless, most of us have evolved over the past few months.

The most important questions now are about what you have learned.

What are your pivots and turning points?

By pursuing the wisdom that the crises offer, you increase your chances of thriving into the immediate and longer-term future. Take the time to ponder. Your efforts will pay off.

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