Warning: Explicit content, My opinions may make you uncomfortable, check all your own facts, bullies get banned.
Let me tell you now. You are one of the lucky ones. Like many of you, I'm sitting at home, not just because we are all facing financial ruin or that there's a deadly disease on our door. Personally, I should be on a business trip right now, but I'm not. I'm here wondering what business will look like on Monday and writing to you.
There seem to be people on both sides of the fence. Some of my friends think that we're now in the apocalypse. Others that it is an over hyped conspiracy and way overblown. Either way, what is clear is that when I went to the grocery store this week, there was no food. I have never experienced that before. During the last recession you could travel. I've never been prevented from leaving my country. Have you?
What is happening is impossible to ignore. So, the state of the new reality: we're all living on our couch right now. I've binge watched an embarrassing number of shows on Netflix. And I don't know when it's going to change and life will get back to normal. Tim Ferriss published an amazing post a few days ago. From the information he shared and the spreadsheet he used, you can get a ballpark estimate on how long it will take for COVID-19 to run its course. So, if you want to get geeky, go check it out.
What I'm preparing myself for is working from home for the next three months. That might be optimistic, Either way, non of us are going anywhere for a while and not working for three months does not sound fun. Unless its planned and with friends!
Do you remember where you were, when it hit you, we where in a recession in 2008? It started in the summer of 2007 for me. I had a cool job working with real estate investors. One day, I thought I was going to make $100,000 in commissions. The next day I lost my job. I'd saved up some money and wanted to buy my first real estate investment, a 3-plex in a neighborhood just outside of downtown Denver. I had worked three jobs for three years to make it happen.
When life hits like that, I like to find a way to laugh. And to just keep swimming, swim in the chaos. Life is beautiful, funky, and strange. What is the point of being upset? It distracts you from what you can do in the now. So swim.
From my dear friend Epictetus, "Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control , and some things are not. It is only after you have faced up to the fundamental rule and learned to distinguish between what you can and can't control that inner tranquility (joy) and outer effectiveness become possible."
This is a good time to read The Art of Living: The Classical Mannual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness. It is short and sweet. And this is one of my favorite translations, very approachable, and broken down into consumable pieces. Once you get through that book, you should start to feel better. You'll be able to turn off the television and start working again. This is the time to invest in you. Financial crises seem to crack the very ground underneath us. And it will be the entrepreneurs that build the new foundation and fill in the cracks of what used to be. What we've seen, and how fast it's come could potentially devastate us. But it also has the opportunity to allow us to remake ourselves.
For example, universal basic income was unthinkable three weeks ago. Now, if we don't have it. Everything else will collapse. The rent won't get paid, groceries won't be bought, and credit will default. And it's not just here. It's everywhere. This is our new normal.
We have to think that this isn't the one and only time that a pandemic will affect our society. We never know when we will see another one. People move faster and it cost less than ever before. Someone, anywhere can be in your hometown in less than a day. Trust me on this, I live in airports and have a goal to go someplace new every year.
So here's why I think you're one of the lucky ones. If you're an entrepreneur, innovator, or even somebody that wants to be, this is your moment. But you have to calm down and start thinking about what is next for you, under the constraints we are all living under. Here is a funny video a friend shared with me when I was having my own meltdown.
Instead of obsessively watching the news about COVID19 spread, figure out what you're going to do for work for the next three months. People still have all their same basic needs, write down 10 dumb ideas as fast as you can. And then do it again. Problem solving is way more fun game than panic. Don't judge the ideas or you, just write.
You might not find an idea in that first brainstorming session. But if you keep on coming back to it. You'll find it and something will work. It's at these times of crisis that we all have permission to reinvent ourselves. We are given a choice and Taylor Swift's new documentary is an inspiring example. She was nocked down right at the top, and had the courage and dignity to try again, to be vulnerable again. If you still need some Netflix time, check it out.
If I learned anything from the financial crisis of 2008 it was this:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
― Charles Dickens
As 2007 rolled into 2008, I lost everything I had been working for, for the last three years. I remember calling my mom after the meeting at work, where we decided to shut down the startup I worked at. I didn't know what to do. I went from thinking I was going to make my first hundred thousand dollars too Holy Shit! What do I do now? Do I go back to Aspen, and work at a hotel, and teach skiing? That's a half resonable thing to do at 21. But life will always give you choices. I like to think of it in the terms FUN and NOT FUN. I'd lived that pay check to pay check, and the hope you make enough tips tonight pay rent tomorrow life. I didn't want to go back.
I just didn't want to go back. I knew going back wasn't the answer for me. It felt like I would have to make myself small. It didn't look fun. So I thought about what I really wanted to do. What I was afraid of doing. And I decided to leap, I crashed and it felt pretty bad, but it was too late for me. I had the entrepreneurial bug and could not go back to a nine to five plus the night shift to make ends meet.
I'd only ever been out of the country once. And that was a flight down to Buenos Aires the year before to meet a boyfriend. We drove across Argentina and stayed at a gorgeous beach house in Pinamar, eating seafood. It blew my mind.
I want to go back to that perfect moment when anything felt possible. I also discovered that dollars were worth three to four times as much in Argentina, as they were in the US, and for what my living expenses were in a crappy apartment in a bad neighborhood in Denver. I could live in the nicest furnished apartment in Barrio Norte in Buenos Aires.
On that trip the year before, I bought a gorgeous leather handbag for $30. This was in the nicest mall in the 5th Avenue of BA. That got my brain going, bags like that sold for a few hundred dollars at home. So I went back to that place of what felt really good and took that opportunity.
By the time I got home from Argentina the real estate market had collapsed and unraveled the global financial system. I also learned I know nothing about fashion or brands. I was back to three jobs, and the drawing board. BUT I took the skills that I learned, traveling, and setting up a business and running it to do the next thing, and the next thing, and the next thing. Final something stuck. So dare greatly and take this opportunity to reach for something new that inspires you and fills you with joy.