For the Foreseaable Future

When you come to the end of a rope, tie a knot and hang on.

-Franklin D. Roosevelt

It’s April 5th, 2020. Every conversation, press conference or Breaking News announcement nowadays tends to end with the same phrase:

  • We’ll be working from home for the foreseeable future.
  • The governor advises families to stay at home for the foreseeable future.
  • Schools will be closed for the foreseeable future.

Life is going to be different. No, not just for the next few weeks or months, I mean forever. Remember after 9/11, you’d go to a sports game and all of a sudden there were metal detectors, airport security, big German Shepard K9’s, snipers, police and security with assault rifles? You probably thought “Oh, this will go away once everything setttles down…” Nope. It doesn’t just stop and “go back to normal.” It’s the new norm. Policies change, culture changes, the fundamental “normal” ceases to exist.

That’s how it’s going to be after this virus, at least in my view. We’re going to have to get used to it. You think people are just going to stop Lysoling, hand saniziting, wearing masks and walking on the other side of the street once this dies down? Imagine how different elementary schools are going to be, or concerts, or even just getting fast food. Everyone is now going to be concious of what they touch, where they breath, and what they put on or near their face.

There is no normal to go back to. We’re living through an unprecedented time when the world economy and simple functions of everyday life are coming to a complete halt for the foreseeable future.

I don’t mean to scare you, because I don’t think it’s scary. It’s just the reality that we can’t fall back on our previous level of comfort. Our country thrives on growth and change. If we look at the positives of what’s going on I can think of a few. The most glaring positive here is that, if you’re reading this, you’re lucky enough to have access to the things we take for granted every day. Can you imagine doing this quarantine without internet, TV, Amazon, electricity, books, delivery or grocery stores? If I told you there would be a pandemic in your lifetime but you’d be able to live your life from home as normal you’d be eternally grateful. So let’s be grateful for the opportunities that will come out of this tough time:

When you face difficult times, know that challenges are not sent to destroy you. They’re sent to promote, increase and strengthen you.

  1.  Global Education: We’re all getting a crash course in macro and micro economics. Your favorite restaurant is now closed, all the wait staff and cook staff are now out of jobs, they live in apartments or houses that have rent due, now the landlord isn’t getting paid – he can’t get his haircut since the barber is closed, the barber isn’t getting paid and now can’t go get coffee at his favorite cafe. Everything is interconnected and has domino effects. Also the vendors who supply food or alcohol to the restaurant have had their business cut in half. The delivery guys may not be working anymore. The fruit stand on the corner, who gets a lot of business because of the foot traffic outside the restaurant is now making zero sales.
      • We’re receiving lessons in economies of scale, finance, production, trade and supply chains that we never would have fully understood from reading an article or watching 60 minutes. Every last one of us can now understand how supply and demand works and how pivotal it is to keep employment high and keep small businesses running. The main takeaway from 2008: Don’t bail out big instituation while neglecting workers. As Minneapolis Fed President and architect of TARP Neel Kashkari said, we should “err on the side of being generous” with rescue programs. Learn from 2008 – prop up the worker to avoid catastrophe. 
    1. Perspective: It’s sad that it takes times of crisis like this for the best of humanity to come out. When people ask you how you are doing now, they actually mean it. It’s much harder to complain about the petty stuff when you know everyone around you may be struggling in some way – whether that’s the possibility of getting laid off, not getting paid at the normal rate, or being unemployed entirely. Goodwill, generosity, empathy and community become the vital parts of our lives. It’s easy to bitch and moan when everything in life is comfortable – but when shit hits the fan, the only way to transcend is to work together and have empathy for one another.
    2. Innovation: I’m really excited to see the innovative products, ideas and doctrines that come from this. You’re already starting to see it. There are things that will pop up in the next few weeks that would never have been thought of had it not been for this quarantine, and they will suddenly become an everyday part of our lives for years to come. It’s too soon to predict what those things will be but one example I can think of is restaurants who are starting to offer $40 meal packages for families, as well as pick-ups for alcohol, brunch, etc. Not many places were doing that two months ago, but I think that’s something that we will suddenly see become the norm two years from now, for example. 
      • Perhaps the invention of a hands-free door handle? (I don’t know how this would work, but just spitballing…) Will drive-up shopping become the norm? Will companies realize how much money they are wasting on expensive real-estate for office space when the entire company can work from home effectively? Lots of things unexpected things or routines will suddenly become normal to us.
    3. Hyper Collaboration: Scientists are working together across the globe and sharing their reports freely. They’re able to get to solutions much faster working together than in silos. Open source solutions and sharing will expand and become an asset across all industries. 
      • I also think skill sharing will become like breathing to us. Food prep videos are already the rage on Instagram and TikTok, but I expect to start seeing that across every vertical – including healthcare. Things like “how to make a mask at home,” homemade hand sanitizer, how to self-treat or self test for the virus, etc. 
    4. Kindness is King: My fiancé Lauren is a Physician Assistant at a hospital on Long Island. Every week I hear horror stories of how people treat medical professionals despite the fact that they are their only hope. People can be on their death bed, and still treat their health care professional like an asshole, or act like a know-it-all. I’m over the moon that people like Doctors, Nurses, First Responders, PA’s, Firefighters, Police Officers, Delivery Service people, and more are getting the recognition they deserve. Healthcare workers are our literal heroes, on the frontlines, exposing themselves to viral conditions willingly and not asking for a pat on the back.

As much as confusion and the fear of the unknown can cause us to crumble, so can the sheer will to not give up and live each day as best as we can – by providing, being collaberative, showing care and generosity for our neighbors, and encouraging positive interactions through humor, stories, and gratitude. We can get through this and we’ll all come out better on the other side. Now is the time to do the things that you never thought you had time to do – innovate, create, share and do!

Stay safe and reach out to those you love <3

-KB

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