Advice on preparing for a new future

Coronavirus insights in life and in business, frozen meat muse, day in the life of a coronavirus specialist, and visualizing social distancing

Hi friends,

As the have coronavirus continues to affect our world and uproot our day-to-day, we are left wondering many things about an unknown future:

  • What is going to happen with this novel coronavirus?

  • When will this quarantine end?

  • How will the economy bounce back?

  • And when will Nintendo switches be back in stock? (real talk)

But having an answer to these very questions will not change the reality of what is happening around us. Until there is a vaccine or other way to mitigate the spread of this virus, we all need to continue to socially-isolate ourselves. We need to do our part in flattening the curve as doctors, nurses, and other essential workers continue to keep our society going, and as scientists and epidemiologists race to find the solution.

With many of us spending a considerable amount of time at home, it becomes too easy to distract ourselves with the immediate gratification of watching Netflix, playing games, and scrolling through social media. We can go down a rabbit hole with these things infinitely and indefinitely with very little to gain.

While the pleasures of digital media can quickly pass the time, there lies an even greater opportunity to spend some time adjusting now for the inevitable future to come.

Here are some of my thoughts and opportunities for the future.

With physical touch becoming a concern for many, contactless interface and interactions will become the new normal.

  • Voice and gesture commands will be more prevalent in our lives. Practice with Siri on your iPhone if you haven't already. And if you can, invest in a smart home speaker like Google Home (my preference) and Amazon Alexa to practice voice commands. Learning the right voice commands will be extremely useful, just like learning how to use Google to find things online.

  • Enable NFC (near-field communication) payments on your phone like Apple Pay, as our society will shift towards a more cash-less economy.

Digital will become king (or queen)

  • For businesses, our primary interaction with customers and exchanging money will be through the internet. E-Commerce will grow exponentially, and services that were once physical (ex: therapy and doctor visits) will offer digital-first alternatives.

  • If your business is currently physical, ask yourself: how might you pivot to include digital as a part of your service offering? Could it be to add online shopping? How about e-consultation? Or even online education?

  • Brick and mortar services that are re-opening will feel constrained with added costs to sanitize, enforcing social distancing, and keeping the workforce healthy and uninfected.

With an increased digital footprint, digital security will become much more critical.

  • As more of our identity and assets become stored online, using password managers like Bitwarden (free for personal accounts) or digital credit cards like Privacy (free with payments funded through debit or bank account) are essential. It's up to us to become hyper-vigilant with our digital data and content.

  • Remove credit cards and other PII (personally identifiable information) from websites we don't frequent as much. Scary fact: not all websites will send you an email if your password has been changed or if a credit card has been charged.

  • Digital services will fight even harder for our attention. Unsubscribe from newsletters you leave unopened. Delete unused digital accounts. Set time limits on news and social media. Become more proactive with your digital life before it dictates you.

As more work shifts towards digital, there will be a demand for remote capabilities in both our personal and business lives.

In our personal lives, we can benefit significantly from migrating as much of our brick & mortar capabilities directly into our homes.

  • From managing our shipping and postage needs to cooking all of our favorite foods we once enjoyed outdoors, enrolling in the proper software or having the right equipment will be paramount.

  • For example, if you need to send checks to pay rent, can you do this all from your home? Most online banks provide bill pay services to generate and ship out checks on your behalf. And if you want to ship packages, all you would also need is a printer, tape, and some packing materials (free from USPS). A measuring scale might not be such a bad idea too.

With social distancing becoming our new normal, getting the right equipment for remote connection with others is key. Think about everyone you will communicate with: friends, families, colleagues, and maybe first dates?

  • Invest in improving your audio and video. Buy a pair of headphones to reduce echo for your listener and lighting to enhance your appearance. I am a huge fan of Philips Hue colored bulbs attached to clamp lights.

  • Help set up equipment and provide tutorials on how to use Facetime and other chat applications to those not as tech-savvy. (Grandma?) A bit of patience and education here goes a long way.

Remote work will be a priority for businesses.

  • Meeting and events will be digital-first. Technology for in-person collaboration and networking sessions will see huge advancements with demand. But as that develops, get conformable with the current tools and learning digital etiquette.

  • Tip: Get comfortable putting yourself on mute to remove background noise and test out your video first to check your background, lighting, and attire. And also, looking directly into the camera when speaking will help others feel seen.

  • Companies will become more distributed around the world. With that, a massive potential for increased diversity in the workforce and job opportunities outside of a single locale. There will be increased competition across various timezones.

  • Find your special sauce. Being different and complementary to a business is more important than being like everyone else. Because...

There will be an even bigger demand for automation and robotics.

  • Constrained budgets and a need for sanitation will drive demand for scaleable automation to reduce human dependencies.

  • On the one hand, there will be further unemployment. But on the other, we will potentially eliminate jobs that are dangerous and harmful for people such as sweatshop labor and factory line-workers in hazardous conditions.

  • Securing jobs amidst automation is to go the opposite direction - into creativity. Regardless of how advanced AI had become, it is impossible to ask it to come up with ideas and innovate. Working in a new field or putting together new concepts work against AI and their dependency on strong data sets.

  • Figure out how to infuse innovation and creativity into the work that you do and explore ways of leveraging technology in the work that you do to expedite nonessential tasks... before somebody else takes that step for you.

Do you have any other predictions for the future?


My new muse

A frozen meat brand has become a source of my inspiration for deep insights and critical thinking during a pandemic... 

In the life of a coronavirus specialist

Now there is new pressure, a type of pressure few of us will experience: being one of a handful of experts in a rarefied field of study that's suddenly in the mouth of every news anchor, politician, and ordinary citizen trapped inside their home, who are all hoping that some expert or scientist somewhere will discover a drug to battle the first virus to shut down the globalized world—and that expert, that scientist, is you. 

Inside the High Stakes New Life of a Coronavirus Specialist by GQ.

Social distancing visualized

The NY Times recently published an interactive article showcasing the importance of social distancing using 3D simulation. The catch? What we should be focusing on more are about the things we cannot see. (But based on recent developments, the distance may update to 13 feet and through the soles of our shoes)

As always, thanks for reading!

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Anything else? You can always hit "reply" to email me directly. 💌

Have a beautiful day!

Metta (loving-kindness),
Steven

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