top of page

Discovery & Learning Beyond the Pandemic

By Katherine Beneby II

When we entered 2020 we never imagined we would have been faced with a pandemic. It has been a very trying time for our health and economic system. Meanwhile during lockdown, we saw emerging bakers and cooks, delivery services and backyard farmers, among others. Whether it was always a passion or a new-found love, people were embracing discovery and learning to make the most of their time.

If you are currently unemployed or seeking a transition, this is the perfect to time to adapt your focus, ask questions that open your imagination, persevere and learn.

Adapt Your Focus

Change is inevitable. Our ability to adapt will make the difference between sinking or swimming. Several small businesses have launched during this time, two of which are Wicked Wingz & Gracie’s Bakeshop.

When asked, “Why now?”, the owner of Wicked Wingz, Nathaniel Adams Jr. stated, “During the pandemic it was a rough time for me personally and for the world. Music was shut down. Music is therapy for me, so I wasn’t able to teach or play with Rhythm N’ Youth which was a thriving industry we were a part of and building.

Of course, we have food and I have my grill. I found that going to the grill to provide for my family was extremely therapeutic. During that time when everyone was home, social media was booming, so people were posting their food and I was posting and continuously posting. A lot of people started to ask “when can they taste that?” but we were on lockdown.

This started the demand, so I thought to try it. I sat down with my sister and wife and began planning for 30-40 orders, and the first week we had 45 orders. That was the beginning of it and we were growing in orders ever since. So, we all came to the realization that Wicked Wingz was more than a pandemic thing. I see it as tragedy to triumph as a man, as a husband and father providing for my family.”

The same question was asked to Gracie’s Bakeshop owner, Geshann Francis. Her response: “The pandemic gave us the courage to start. Gracie’s was always an idea, but through encouragement and support, I really built the confidence to make the first step. Every day the business is evolving as I refine my craft.”

Her husband Kingsley Francis also launched his business “PitStop Smokehouse,” which is authentic smoked BBQ. She went on to say, “putting focus into developing our own brand really gives us adrenaline. Hearing feedback from customers - it gives us joy knowing that our food was enjoyed and appreciated.”

Like Adams and Francis, this pandemic has forced us to adapt in many ways. Yes, it can be uncomfortable, but it’s all about our mindset. We should strive to have a winning mindset which is fed by positive thoughts, faith and determination. This is important to keep us going during tough and uncertain times.

Ask questions that open your imagination

This requires stopping and reflecting. Some questions to start with are:

  1. What do I truly want to do with my life?

  2. What are my options?

  3. What am I good at?

  4. Who are the people I need to take me where I need to go?

  5. What are my fixed beliefs that may be keeping me from learning or exploring a new thing?

  6. What resources do I have at hand to explore?

  7. What can I do to elevate my craft?

Adams shared a quote which stood out to him during this time, “Everyone has a million dollars in their head, you just have to figure out how to get it out.” Even as you ask these questions above, you may feel discouraged by few employment opportunities or low finances. These are real hurdles which will require constant effort and intentionality to overcome. The road ahead will not be easy but each day you must tap into the fighter in you. This time will call for adjusting our priorities, removing all non-essentials and throwing away our pride to chart a new course.


You won’t know unless you try. One of the greatest things holding people back is fear. If something doesn’t work out, it gives you an opportunity to try a new way. Adams speaks about learning perseverance particularly through a wing flavor that had him in a defeated state.

“The Smokey 007 when we first tried it, it was awful. We didn’t know how to harness it. We did some research to find out how it’s done but the end product is something that we’ve literally invented. You can’t find it anywhere else. I remember one particular Saturday I left my mother’s house, went home and was like “Wow, this wing is really awful.” I went to bed and got up because I couldn’t sleep and it took my sleep for a couple of days. I kept thinking about it. It was our last wing flavor to be introduced and it is now one of our top sellers. You have to keep tweaking. You can’t give up on it. That’s the only way you’re going to win.”

Don’t be crippled by fear of failure. Use failure to learn, grow and be empowered to succeed.


Each day we embrace learning whether we realize it or not. From the people around us, the places we go, the books we read, the videos we watch, there is a lesson in everything. We must live life as students by continuously challenging ourselves.

Francis says, “we watch a lot of videos of other professionals who BBQ/Smoke. I also watch a lot of baking tutorials, follow various artists and grill masters on Instagram. We experiment a lot as well; testing recipes and creating new flavor profiles.”

We must constantly stir the desire to learn and grow beyond lockdown. For some of you, this time has forced you to tap into skills/expertise that may have been dormant or to do things you never had the time to do. I challenge you to seek an apprenticeship, explore that burning idea, enroll in a course or begin watching youtube videos on areas of interest.

Remember the greatest investment you can make is in yourself. Your legacy matters!

Find out more on the Queen’s College Centre for Further Education on Facebook or at

• Katherine Beneby II is the Director of Operations & Marketing at the Queen’s College Centre for Further Education, as well as a certified John C. Maxwell speaker, trainer and coach. She can be reached at

19 views0 comments


bottom of page