Larry Izamoje is a big name in Sports. He is a football guru and one of the early pioneers of Sports Radio reporting. He runs the very successful Sports Radio Called BRILA FM. He was recently our guest on City People Instagram Live Chat during which he spoke about his life and successful career in sports reporting.
Below are tips on how his Radio Station survived the Covid-19 Lockdown.
We’ll like you to share with us your thoughts on the global pandemic and how it affected football and sports, in general, all over the world. What were your thoughts back then when the lockdown came?
Well, we knew it was going to be like a heavyweight punch. And when it came, it was really heavy. It was heavy on the players, heavy on the athletes, heavy on sports administrators, heavy on us sports journalists, heavy on sports business and indeed everyone took a hit. So, we’re thankful to God almighty that people have been able to go around it in some way. The NBA is back, the EPL has just been concluded like some other leagues in Europe. Even here in Nigeria, we’re beginning to see meetings, so we hope that very soon, we’ll also find a way around it. But it was a very, very big hit.
And how did Brila FM respond to all of this at first?
What we did was to do a lot of studying, a lot of reading I took particularly in the Harvard Business School because beyond just talking sports, I also do a lot of reading and now teaching in this business field. So, I read particularly what Harvard had to say and saw that Professor Beale of the Harvard Business School recommended a few things that one could do and we had to pick all of that, and that’s how we have tried to cope. For those who are listening or watching right now, when it’s this kind of situation, the first thing to know is that it has not come to kill, and so you must press your survival button and understand that you’ve just got to survive. Jack Ma of China, that’s Alibaba, said, this year, you don’t look at making any more money, you just look at surviving. So, that was what we did at Brila. We started talking to buyers to see how we can negotiate contracts, to see how some of them can give us t5heir own kind of palliatives, which came in form of reductions here and there and even postponing some payments. And then, internally, we made staffers work for fewer days. And so you work fewer days, you social distance, not too many people in the studio, some working from home, which is the new normal and that way, we’ve been able to cope with some pain.
What are the lessons that you think we should learn from this experience?
Well, to always be proactive. To always be a step or two above the world. You must know that the unexpected can hit you. Nobody was prepared for this. Like I said when I did a lecture, a webinar, at the Lagos Business School, on coping in the pandemic times, I said as sportspeople, you are taught to play in a particular way. Coaches teach you what to do when you have your event or match, but with the pandemic, you have to play the way you were not trained to. So, it comes down to you thinking it out, knowing that you’ve got put this in another gear, and that is what we have tried to do.
Okay, you were going to give us tips, not just for the sports community, but tips that people can use in a time like this…
Yes, No. 1, Press your survival button. Know that this has not come to stay, it has come and will pass away. For employers, you’ve got to look at what Professor Beale calls the HCHP, that’s the high commitment staffers you have and the high performers. Then, you now create like a War room, because the pandemic is like fighting a war. And what do you have in your war room? You must have your Top performers, people who can deliver under any circumstance. No 2. That is also a time for you to stay calm as a leader, whether as an athlete or anybody, you manage yourself and manage your organization. So, first and foremost, you must stay calm. I tell you this when 9/11 happened in the USA, President George Bush was in Florida reading to some students in a school and when he was told, ‘America is under attack, Mr President, “ he remained calm. He didn’t run out of the classroom. So, as business people, you don’t run out of your field because of what has happened, remain calm so that you can take a deep breath and know what to do. No 3. You must collaborate and start looking for people who can help you. No 4. You also must show compassion to those who are your creditors, those who help you sustain your business. You must ask yourself, what are they also facing? And under compassion, you must also show compassion for one another. Your colleagues, fellow athletes, fellow footballers, what are they passing through. We all have different coping mechanisms and levels, so you must assist those who are almost dying because of this, you must help them. No. 5 This is not the time to spend foolishly. This is the time to hold onto your old shoes and delay purchasing new ones. No 6, The community that you belong to, this is the time to know the community very well because you may just need one hospital around the community or somebody around you who can help you. So, you must relate well with the community. Not. 7 You also must have your ears to the ground concerning what the government is doing. If you allow me use this business term, The PESTLE analysis. The P there stands for Politics and government. The E stands for Economy, that is, how is the economy doing. So, P, what is the government saying about the pandemic? They’re saying in your office, at home, follow some protocols. As you go out, you know what to do. So, follow what the government has said so that you don’t land yourself or somebody else in trouble. The economy is down, this is not the time to start something new, except it is e-commerce based. S is for Social. We are talking about interactions in this case, and I’m slightly tweaking the PESTL analysis. This is not the time to interact without putting on your face mask, this is not a time to start visiting people. This is a time to stay on your own and do many things through the phone. And that takes me to Technology, which is T. What can I do with my phone? How can technology help me as a person? I’m not allowed to go out and train, but I can watch the training videos of others on my phone so that when I’m allowed to go back, I know that I have loaded my brain, rather than just staying idle, so technology is key. And then, the Legal Aspect. You want to say, given the way things are turning out you’re asking some workers to go, some to stay, you’re being told you will not be fully paid, what is legal? What is right? So that you don’t end up in court because of some decisions being taken. I remember Ngolo Kante telling Chelsea he was not ready to train, was that legal. Was that part of the contract? And so you must look at the legal, you must not, because of the pandemic, run into murky legal waters. And the E there is the Environment. So if they say this Environment is polluted, this Environment is a high risk, can I do things outside this environment to stay safe? So, if you look at the PESTL and look at football for example, what clubs first did was to press their survival buttons. Some laid off a few people, some reduced their number of workers, and when the environment was safe, new things were done and football had to return.