(Note added August 10th, 2021): In this article, I suggest that Lambda is vaccine resistant, and will cause a major spike. Since writing this article, further research has shown that Lambda does not seem to be vaccine resistant. However, this does not mean that the events I describe will not happen. It only means that they will not happen right now with that one particular variant. The general point remains valid.
A month ago, I looked at the data available to me and predicted that within a month or two, we would see masking come back and possible lockdowns. Now that these have come to pass, I want to be more intentional in sharing what I am seeing.
Covid is not only not over but what is coming in the next 18 months will be worse than the previous 18 months. The difference is that the warning signs are here and businesses have time to prepare, if they know what to prepare for.
I’m not going to talk about the politics or the underlying causes. The purpose of this article is to share with business owners and anyone else who needs to prepare a general idea of what we might expect in the next 18 months, and what you can do to prepare your business.
Delta is giving us a preview of what variants will do. It’s high infectivity and partial vaccine resistance are causing numbers to rise again, mask mandates to return, and uncertainty in people’s plans and activities.
It is super hip and woke to crap on billionaires these days. The narrative is that people like Zuckerberg, Bezos, and Musk are sitting on hoards of wealth accumulated by seizing the labor of the workers.
A billionaire could literally dedicate their entire fortune to eradicating disease in the world and they’d probably still have people complaining. Not probably. That’s exactly what Bill Gates is doing. And that’s the reaction he’s getting.
In it, he laments that human nature leads people to be lay about, taking advantage of enhanced unemployment to indolently bum around at home. He paints in your mind a lazy laggard who drinks and plays video games as the rest of us hard working folk put money in their bank account.
Nice story. Too bad it is mostly fictitious, and largely classist. The reality is that working is expensive.
When my daughter was in daycare, it cost $270 per week. That’s for one child.
Minimum wage in Connecticut is $12 per hour, which means that a 40 hour week pays $480. That assumes that you can get 40 hours, which you probably can’t.
Take out $270 for childcare, and now you’ve got $210 left. That’s before taking taxes, the cost of getting to and from work, and all the other costs of working. Can you live on $150/week? Didn’t think so.
In his article, Thomas pontificates, “It makes one wonder what happened to…the ‘work ethic’ when work was seen as a noble.”
Perhaps what happened is that work became less noble when wages remained stagnant for 40 years while the cost of living rose. Maybe it’s that workers are treated like replaceable cogs, liabilities rather than assets, due to misguided “lean business” philophies.
Or it could be that the concept of “work ethic” has always been an idea propagated by those who profit from cheap and abundant labor to convince people to work long hours, exhaust themselves too much to think, then sooth their fatigue with consumerism.
I know quite a few millionaires. None of them work more than 40 hours a week. Most of them less than 20. They deploy their resources efficiently, leverage connections, and find the places where their time most efficiently converts into money.
Anyone can do what they do, but it takes time and energy to learn to do it, to make a plan to do it, and to actually do it. Someone who is struggling to figure out how to pay the rent on $150 per week has neither time nor energy.
However, what happens when that person is given the time and the space to decompress, think, and explore? They start to discover opportunities that they were never aware of before. They find that they can start a business. They find jobs that pay considerably more than what they were settling for. They may even find that, net of childcare and other expenses, it makes more sense to be a single income household.
What would this look like in the macroeconomic numbers? Lower labor force participation, higher wages, more business starts. Just like we are seeing right now.
Covid support didn’t make people lazy. It made them creative. Maybe if Mr. Thomas got away from his computer and did some real work once in a while, he’d see that.
I often see discussions on business forums on personal appearance and professional appearance. People will talk about having to dye their hair back to normal colors or hide the more colorful parts of their personality from their social media.
The solution is not to remove your unique elements. Rather it is to clearly lean in to them 100%. Be the most awesome and badass version of yourself.
Above is the LinkedIn profile picture for RJ Redden. She is a marketing consultant that I met at the Strategic Alliance Live conference last week. She was there, googles, cape, purple hair and all and not a single one of the hundreds of highly successful entrepreneurs in attendance blinked an eyelash at her attire.
In fact, the reason I know her is that our conversation started with me saying: “I don’t know you, but your goggles tell me I want to.” I was right. She’s awesome.
The place you get in trouble is when you are apologetically yourself. When you sneak into the room with purple hair and wonder how people will react. She didn’t wonder. She knew. Her demeanor said “If you have a problem with my googles, that’s your problem, not mine.”
It’s 2021 and all the rules are in flux. No one knows what the cultural norms are, so why not make your own.
As I often do, I made a social media post which was intended to remind people of their power to control their responses to their world. In this case, the post was “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” The intent of the sentiment is that we cannot prevent painful things from happening to us, but we can choose our response to it and whether we choose to suffer in that pain or deal with it in other ways.
Some people were inspired by this post and others were offended. I was hurt by their taking offense. I understood that those who were upset read the words through the lens of their experience and took a different meaning from that which was intended. What it took some time to recognize was the source of my own pain at the misunderstanding.
In a few hours, it will go from 2020-12-31 23:59:59 to 2021-01-01 00:00:00.
Balls will drop! Champaign will be consumed! Dates will be kissed!
Nothing magical will happen.
If you don’t believe me, ask someone in Sacramento who will still be waiting another three hours for their New Year.
There is nothing magical about flipping a page on a calendar. When you wake up on the 1st, there will still be a pandemic. There will still be high unemployment. There will still be political turmoil.
None of those things change with the simple turning of the page. All of them require work. The work of scientists. The work of leaders. The work of everyday people to wear their masks and act like responsible people who care about their neighbors.
There is no magic.
Or maybe the magic has already happened. Maybe it happened in March and we didn’t all realize it.
In March, everything was thrown into confusion. The table we were playing the game on was flipped over. Many of us are looking at the mess and lamenting that they can’t do anything with the pieces on the floor.
But some of us are looking at it and seeing that we now have the chance to play an entirely new game. It is in these moments when the greatest opportunities come to us.
For as long as I can remember, I have been bringing people together and building community. In high school, I hosted our parties and planned our outings. In college, I ran conventions. After college I opened Phoenix Games to be a center of community. In my 30s I worked at all manner of genre events.
But 2020 brought an opportunity like I’d never seen before. The quarantine forced everyone to discover the potential of virtual space. Virtual networking, virtual communities, virtual conferences, once the realm of a cutting edge few are now possible for the mainstream.
With lower overhead and completely obviating the effect of geography, it is possible to bring together amazing talent and hundreds of attendees together for pennies.
From this, I was able to create Conference21. It is not just a place to help people learn from 32 experts, but it’s a place to create a new kind of community. A community that defies borders, that ignores geography. It is a community that anyone can become a part of if it is right for them.
We are able to use these new technologies to create networking events before and after the conference that are almost like being face to face.
None of these technologies are actually new. They existed in 2019.
What changed in March was that we became open to them.
“Have you ever shown up for a meeting in your bare feet?” they asked as they showed a Zoom-like video conference.
This technology became commonly available years ago, but most people prior to 2020 had never participated in a virtual meeting.
In 2020, AT&T’s predictions, which had been technically accurate for years, became socially accurate. Virtual meetings, distance learning, and all the rest became part of all of our lives.
The promise of the future is here, and we are all ready to embrace it.
There is no magic in the turning of the calendar, but there can be great magic in uncertain times. Uncertainty means you don’t know how it will turn out. That can be a bad thing, but it can also be a very good thing, especially if you weren’t winning beforehand.
All the pieces are now up in the air. You have a choice. You can let them clatter to the ground, or you can grab some and find your new future.
Have you ever seized your own new opportunities?
And the company that will bring it to you… is you.
Michael Whitehouse knows all about games, having owned a game store for many years. He has never heard of a board game that can still be played after the table is flipped, but it’s a good metaphor anyway.
If you’d like to hear more strained metaphors or discuss how you might make your own magic in 2021, click here to schedule a free half hour coaching session with Michael.