So how do you tell your kids that their entire lives are about to change? It's daunting to face what they might say, ask or feel. Even when it’s something really good, change is hard. And ideally you want everyone to be on board before you change everything they've ever known. Well folks there's really only one answer...you better sell it!
Do your homework
I quickly went into work mode. Glasses on, hair up and writing up a storm. First started to create an outline, then began the many post-it notes with good/bad/awful ideas, researched all of the things that we’d be able to do and finally went into deep searches for just the right image/video to make my points sing. My ad experience came in very handy here, but I think this is really the first time I created a pitch deck that had so much riding on this one outcome (my children's happiness). If they didn’t buy what we were selling or worse, if they completely revolted, would we have seriously reconsidered? I hoped that we didn't have to go down that road to find out.
As I was creating this master presentation, my mind immediately wandered back to my own childhood move at age 8. I had really hated moving from the only home I had known and all of my friends. By the time my family was ready to move again 7 years later, I put up quite a fight and even found a host family to let me stay with them in case my parents really were moving, just so I wouldn't have to move again.
But, I had to remember the most important question of this whole presentation:
“Who is my customer?”
And the kids don’t really care about much outside of their little bubble of home, school, neighbors, friends and family. Covid had done quite a job of making their small worlds even smaller and we were about to take almost all of that away too. This wasn’t an easy decision to make, as we knew that although this would be huge for us all, the kids probably wouldn’t appreciate how amazing this was until they were grown.
We had to look at this from their perspective and treat this news of change ever so carefully. We needed everyone on board to make this work.
Set the tone
What I know from my many client and team pitches is that so much of the tone has to do with how we set it up. This was a really amazing opportunity! It was truly a unique experience that we knew they would benefit from in the long run. And we were genuinely excited about being able to take this risk. While we acknowledged that it would flip everything on its ear, we wanted to show them that we welcomed that.
I agonized over how to position this, especially for a 4 and 7 year old. You want to be honest, but you don't want to overwhelm them. The true measure of how huge and impactful this would be for us wouldn’t really hit any of us until we were already there. But for the kids, they just needed to know that the fundementals would stay pretty consistent. But there would be a lot of things that would be very different. Would we be able to fix all of the things that wouldn't be what we wanted? Would we be able to replace what we didn't have? Would we even want to?
Jeremy and I reviewed the deck multiple times, walked through it to rehearse the flow and make last minute changes. We think we were ready. We sat the kids down and showed them the first slide:
They immediately started crying. First Avery, then Max as a reaction to his sister crying. For them the gravity of “we have exciting news” made their minds jump to worst possible scenario. And after 18 months of pandemic life, we didn’t realize how the very word “news” now held a very different response to two pretty easy going kids.
I went into full pitch mode and led them through all of the things that would remain exactly the same (incuding the fact that we would keep our home so we can return when done), then went into the differences and give them all of the reasons WHY this was such amazing news. They got to see videos & pictures of their new school and we ended it with a picture of Universal Studios at the end (we are not above bribery).
By the end, they were smiling ear to ear. This would be an adventure of a lifetime, regardless of the hurdles we would face with moving across the world during a pandemic.
Were we totally jumping head first into the unknown? Yes and no. We had done as much research and talking to expats who've done this before, but nothing new is without risk or unknowns. We knew that we wanted to do it. We thought we were ready. And we believed we could... so we did. We weren't sure what would be waiting for us once we got to Asia, but we were betting on us to find out and figure it out.
Now, we needed to tell everyone else and start packing our lives...