Pandemics Change the Way We Do Business

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Three People Holding Their Phones And Taking Picture Of A Mona Lisa Painting

When I was a kid, there were no tamper seals on anything. I guess it was assumed that no one would ever mess with the foods and medicines we bought, until it happened with a bottle of Tylenol. Suddenly, it had to be taken into consideration that not everyone was benevolent and the business model had to change.

Though I’m no physician, I’m sure certain incidents have driven necessary changes to medical protocol. From what I understand, during the Black Plague, people desperately built pyres in the streets, attempting to “clean” the air. However, the resulting smoke did nothing to stop the disease.

At the time of this blog post, the world is staring down the barrel of COVID-19. Conspiracy theories and the fact that influenza is responsible for a lot more casualties aside, the Corona Virus is set to be a game changer. What technology has not already done to isolate us into virtual worlds of video games and social media, mandated social distancing will do.

Speaking of tech, I’ve been wondering for the past 20+ years how come downtown business districts still exist. Many jobs are able to be worked from home with an internet connection, a device, and the requisite trapdoor pajamas. Now that much of the world is being forced into this sort of isolation, maybe companies will see the advantage of removing the corporate overhead that involves expensive leases and huge buildings to do what can be accomplished in the comfort of employees’ homes.

Likewise, just as the need to go to huge movie theaters to catch the latest flick has been diminishing in lieu of simply streaming content from anywhere, times are a-changin’. I will take a moment to say that a nostalgic part of me misses the trips families took to the now-vastly-extinct drive-ins. However, though I love the rather concept of jockeying for a view from the backseat or doing battle with the mosquitos when we dared to sit outside in lawn chairs, drive-ins are antiquated as a business model. (I’m still hoping it comes back and finds a second wind, much like vinyl records, as a niche market.)

Food delivery has become a thing in the past decade. Currently, with most restaurants closed or at least modified to discourage close interaction, many are forced to order out and wait for their meals to be delivered. How will this up-jump the boogie when it comes to future business models for eateries? Will patrons be welcomed to dine in sterile pods with clear walls that allow us to see other folks and give us the illusion of socializing? Sounds like something from a Terry Gilliam movie but speculative fiction often becomes reality in some form.

So, what does all this mean for someone operating in a hu$tler’s mindset?

  1. Study trends and history, predicting the changes that will take place.
  2. Don’t get wrapped up in the fact that “this is the way we’ve always done business.”
  3. Realize that things must and do change.
  4. Prepare for and be flexible enough to adjust to those changes.

My expectation is that we’ll ride the wave of COVID-19 and more or less go back to the way things were. However, since we seem to have some sort of epidemic scare every few years (SARS, MERS, Mad Cow, Bird Flu, et al, I’m eyeballin’ your shady asses), we can expect to be here again a time or two before the end of the decade. If we don’t adjust this time around (because it is quite human to fight change), we’ll be forced to evolve the way business is done. So, get those trapdoor pajamas ready—the polka-dotted ones with the feet—because I’m predicting the home office will soon be the standard. Just you wait and see.

Legacy of the Grind, Part 1

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 I have a cousin who was a banker. Though she made the decision to leave the corporate world in the dust, she’s still awesome when it comes to money management. When it came to her children, she had a unique way of looking at things. She told them that, if they wanted to go to college, they would have to ensure they kept their grades up and were eligible for scholarships. “I don’t owe my kids anything once they’re graduated and eighteen,” she told me, unapologetically and quite matter-of-factly. At the time, I thought it was a cold move but I eventually began to see the light in her logic.

We raise our children from birth, changing diapers, feeding them, staying up late nights when they’re not feeling well or when there’s a monster under the bed. Takes a LOT to get someone from infancy to the beginning of adulthood. Many of us even do it several times over, so that, for a good amount of years, we’re still sacrificing for our kids.

But something happens when they cross the threshold of graduated-and-eighteen. They’re still not old enough to drink but they may have had their driver’s license for a couple of years by then. Even more scary is the fact that they could very well mess around and wind up with babies of their own. Beyond that, they’re waiting to make their next move but typically don’t want guidance from any parental figure in making decisions—of course, because they know every-damn-thing at that age. In the meantime, many parents watch their children stumble and fuck up in all sorts of ways, which is a key to figuring things out, albeit often at our expense.

A few years ago, the American military made it to where its members could pass on G. I. Bill benefits to their children. It sounds really cool but, when it came down to me, I began thinking more like my cousin. That is to say, my kids had two options: (1) they could keep those grades up and apply for scholarships; or (2) they could go into the military and EARN THEIR OWN G. I. BILL BENEFITS!!! Needless to say, three of my brood went the college route and one went into the military.

Right about now, there are people clutching their pearls, cursing my name, and cutting backflips. However, there are a few non-traditionalists who actually get the essence of what I’m trying to convey. We should not be tied to our children as if there’s an ongoing guilt trip for having conceived them. Just as we don’t owe it to them to continue to wipe their asses (I’m referring to able-bodied individuals of sound mind, not children with special needs), we don’t owe them a permanent spot on the tit.

At some point, in order to become productive members of society, they need to get out there and…produce!

I’m part of the Sesame Street generation, which is both good and bad. On the up-side, children became recognized more as individuals who—if they, as teenagers, aren’t strangled to death by their parents after stealing the keys and crashing the car after getting drunk at a party they were told they couldn’t go to in the first fucking place—will eventually grow into adulthood. The dark side of my generation was that many folks began to worship Little Timmy and Doe-Eyed Bethany, thinking they had the ability to walk on water.

NOT.

Though I agree that each child should be nurtured and loved on, I am completely against someone who is underage and lacking experience being given the lane to control adult narratives. Some things must be earned.

The solution? Teach your children to hu$tle. And, as I often reiterate, I’m not talking about having them do anything illegal or detrimental. I feel (because this is all my opinion, as it is my blog) that something was lost when little girls stopped opening lemonade stands and little boys stopped mowing lawns to make money for their piggybanks. Instead, most children today are so glued to their phones or sucked into game consoles, and they actually mistake social media for actual socializing. Seems to me that the most they’re responsible for is half-ass doing a couple of chores and maybe finishing some homework, before they log on and join friends they’ve likely never met in a virtual environment.

I like video games. Hell, one of my hu$tles is voicing characters for video games, so it’s not the gaming industry to which I fart in its general direction. But, if all Junior is good at by the time he’s of legal age to drive a car and live on his own is getting the high score in an imaginary world, you as a parent have FAILED.

Yeah, I said it. Fight me!

Nearly gone are the days when we take the time to actually teach our babies the value of a dollar and the basics of what it takes to earn a living. But, I’d like to turn a corner at this point and not have us start fellating ourselves at the concept of telling our kids that being relegated to the traditional job market is the be-all-to-end-all.

Not that there’s ANYthing wrong with having a traditional job.

…To start…

The public education system, of which I am a product, is great at conditioning students to become good worker bees. Not that it’s counterproductive to helping build and maintain a colony. However, most children are never told that they can eventually create nests of their own and produce their own figurative honey. The world needs plenty of workers but I challenge each of you to help mold your children into people who learn to start, maintain, and grow businesses of their own.

Uh-oh, I probably just lost a few more narrow-minded folks who have spent their lives toiling for someone else. Don’t worry, though. The cabin pressure will level out when you realize I was once one of the single-minded-of-focus human batteries that was blissfully trapped inside the Matrix.

But when you learn better, you do better and want to see your offspring do even better than that!

This concludes Part One of this particular diatribe. It’s going to take another installment or ten to get my point across and help some folks get free. I’m on the same journey, constantly working to free myself. I welcome you to come along for the ride.