You CAN Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

old dog - You CAN Teach An Old Dog New Tricks - David as a boy on 70s background.

By Crew Chief: David Daigle

Spoiler alert: You CAN teach an old dog new tricks

I turned 50 a couple of weeks ago. You know what I did? I turned the old saying, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” on its head. In the last two weeks alone, I have done the following things that I had never done before:

  • Been a part of a TikTok
  • Had a Zoom birthday party with 22 of my closest friends and family in seven different cities
  • Used a remote starter on my truck
  • Learned how to properly use sound-reducing headphones
  • Wore sandals and socks at the same time (just kidding – I have been doing that for years 😉)
  • Within a single day, I educated five different prospects the value of digital marketing for their business (keeping in mind, I am the guy who has mailed over 700 million direct mail pieces in my career)
  • Sent a contract to a client for signature using DocuSign (it was so seamless)

All of this was just in the past fortnight. Compound this with all the new skills I – along with most of you – have been forced to learn or adapt to in the past year. Below are ten things I have learned since the start of the pandemic – five things I have learned for my business and five things I have come to realize in my personal life:

Business #1: Ensure my employees have a safe environment to work in.

This isn’t new but the definition of safe environment has forever been altered in my perception. Safe used to come with a OH&S manual ensuring the desks and chairs were ergonomic, office spaces were clutter-free and that electric wires were not exposed. Now it means all surfaces that anyone may come into contact with are continually disinfected/sanitized, social distance parameters are set and adhered to and handshakes (among other touch-oriented gestures) are off the table. For those employees working remotely, we must ensure that they have the available virtual collaboration tools and the infrastructure to keep their privacy secure.

Business #2: Ensure emotional intelligence is flexed at all times

The ability to maintain and strengthen social and emotional skills has never been more important. Everyone is under additional and foreign stresses and cognitive understanding and ability to react will be paramount to enduring success. To ensure effective collaboration, management, and self-expression, strong professional ties need to be created and grown between client/employee/vendors.

Business #3: Embrace the speed that digital transformation is evolving

From frontline managers to senior leaders, a substantial increase in the use of digital delivery globally is under way across all segments of the workforce. This fact impacts how expenses are directed such as shift from office space to remote collaborative technology. The uptake in virtual collaboration has provided companies with an opportunity to enhance the digital experience of employee self-directed skills enhancement. The individual employees’ motivations, such as a sense of personal, community, or company purpose can dictate side-of-desk projects geared to their passions.

Business #4: Prepare for multiple potential outcomes

Scenario planning techniques need to be part of business planning, marketing planning, and forecast planning. Wingman is still in its infancy but many reading this blog have been around for years. The re-imagining for all businesses that they are once again a start-up will provide the mindset needed to focus on action and rapid testing as opposed to analysis. I am by no means trivializing analysis with this statement but am drawing the conclusion that any past results that current results are being measured against is flawed. The environment today is net new so needs to be observed and reacted to in the moment.

Business #5: Act with urgency

Quarterly or annually scheduled meetings are likely too spread out. I have learned that a revised focus on 4-6 weeks at a time in your planning and forecasting will allow the flexibility to react to an ever-changing environment we are all a part of. During the current crisis, businesses have worked faster and better than they dreamed possible just a few months ago. Maintaining that sense of possibility will be an enduring source of competitive advantage.

Personal #1: Mental health is a part of health as a whole

I have learned the importance of staying mentally healthy is not just a pandemic exercise. Feelings of isolation, anxiety and worry are at exceptionally high levels since last March. Receiving treatment for a mental health affliction should be as straightforward as receiving treatment for a broken ankle.

Personal #2: Value life

This seems obvious doesn’t it? And yet, every day, there is debate about “acceptable levels” of infection rate and/or volumes, R1 levels, hospitalizations etc. To anyone who has endured a death amongst their friends or family, it would be hard for them to understand anyone else’s definition of “acceptable.” We are apart now so we can all be in attendance when we are together again later.

Personal #3: Focus on what’s important; and it isn’t “stuff”

This pandemic has crystalized the importance of cherishing those around me, especially family members. When something like this happens, you realize that your immediate family is the most important thing in your entire world. No material object can replace the joy and calm that family brings. Maintaining a strong connection with my family members through the pandemic has shone a beacon on the throw-away spending habits that are so easy to fall into. Since the pandemic began, our family have been eating at home more and buying less. This will be a part of our post-pandemic lifestyle as well. Back to the basics.

Personal #4: Don’t be in such a hurry

Similar to prioritizing mental health, we can all learn to slow down a bit. The rat race moves fast. We don’t have to go at the pace everyone else does. Slowing things down can help improve all of our quality of life significantly. The act of rushing from one task to the next in a fast-paced lifestyle can often sweep issues under the carpet. By slowing down, we can all find time to deal with things we never make time for. Providing yourself more time in a day can assist you in the realization and importance of family, friends, etc. 

Personal #5: Do things that make you happy

This goes hand in hand with slowing down. Not only is it important to do what we can to stay healthy and at ease, but also to make sure we’re doing things that make us happy. If we spend most of our time working or doing things we don’t enjoy, we are merely surviving and not living. Do something that makes you happy. And then do it again. Every day.


I can safely say this old dog is ready for a Best-in-Class competition. What have YOU learned this past year? Let us know!

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