by Laurier Mandin on March 26, 2020
I recently re-watched the Ted Talk by Bill Gates from 2015 in which he predicted a flu-like pandemic that would cross continents carried by pre-symptomatic travelers—wiping out millions of people and laying waste to the economy.
Somehow, even coming from one of the largest, most credible voices on our planet, the warning wasn’t enough.
And in shorter-term hindsight, most of us could see this coming months ago (the WHO definitely could), yet we simply sat back and hoped something miraculous would happen to save us from it.
Now we’re living in a world where Jimmy Fallon broadcasts the Tonight Show from his home, interviewing celebrity guests via Zoom while being photo-bombed by his two young daughters—and Neil Diamond serenades us about “washing hands” from his fireplace to the tune of Sweet Caroline. Today I had video calls with colleagues and clients in Italy, New Zealand and both US coasts, all working from home with children passing through as we talked business.
It’s a bizarre new normal, as we settle into a level of global self-isolation we couldn’t have imagined a few weeks ago. We’re making it happen, strange or not.
That’s because we’re the very lucky ones. The safe and healthy ones. Day by day, the numbers of infected and dead track close to—often more severe than—the worst-case modeling. While people, some leaders even, refuse to accept what is clearly the right course of action.
What worries me most is the impacts on people. Those who are about to lose loved ones, and the many who will themselves die before their time. The emotional toll of all this stress on front-line workers forced to play God. And on everyone.
Then the economic impacts. So many job losses already, with families uncertain how they will put food on the table. The many business owners seeing their cash flow freeze while bills continue to arrive, with no meaningful relief in sight. The long-term cost of paying for all of this, to nations, municipalities, individuals and businesses already drowning in debt.
As a veteran entrepreneur—I’ve been running Graphos Product for over 27 years—I have witnessed my share of crises and recessions. Nothing like this of course: no one has experienced an impact this vast and terrible since World War II.
While nearly all businesses will struggle in the coming months and a great many will fail, some will find ways to grow and emerge stronger than ever. Those unicorns will not have overcome and thrived by pure dumb luck. They will have done some very important things differently from most:
We’re all seeing a lot of things that make us anxious lately, and yet the positive actions and opportunities to be proactive are also present. They just aren’t enough of a focal point, until you make them be.
One more thing: let’s all do everything we can to enjoy this extra time with our families. Check the news a few times a day, but don’t let it be the dominant input in your day—nobody can have peace, much less grow like that.
And do not feel guilty for creating growth out of opportunities and innovations that help people. At times like these (whatever that even means), product brands that find ways to focus on customers and ethically grow their businesses will become role models and superstars to everyone else. And if people have stopped buying what you sell, you need to offer them something more valuable.
I’d love to hear your input, and how your business is moving proactively forward through the COVID-19 crisis.
And I’d be delighted to provide a free 30-minute video meeting with you to brainstorm opportunities for your product or business. You can set up a meeting with me online here.
The only rule is we won’t try to sell to one another!
Be well, and please—keep your people safe.