Crisis: A Time of Danger; A Time of Opportunity
My biggest fears from two weeks ago are coming true quicker than I thought. Despite being to prepare a little bit, my finances and life have been highly impacted by the coronavirus. 50% of my next month's Airbnb bookings were cancelled overnight, and I expect more to be cancelled as the coronavirus situation worsens in the states. Vacation Rental Managers who I consult for have little money to invest in their businesses. Hell, all travel might be shut down and I might have to eat my mortgage for 5 month until this blows over. There's now way around it: Financially, this is bad, real bad.
But life isn't all about finances. That's only one aspect of many. During this time, I worry more for the health of the older folks and those with weak immune systems in my life. I also think about the livelihood of others I've met in my travels who live in impoverished countries and rely 100% on tourism. They are really going to struggle during this global recession.
The data has been clear for weeks. Not even Trump is calling this a hoax anymore, it's clearly a full blown crisis. This is unlike anything I've ever lived through in my adult life. And despite the writing being on the wall for a month now, the consequences have escalated so quickly, in a matter of one quick week.
Crisis = Danger + Opportunity?
You may have heard a business consultant, motivational speaker, or a politician use this bit before in a speech.*
*Turns out this isn't factually true. A quick wikipedia search will tell you this isn't how the Chinese characters are translated. Would it surprise anyone that no one has bothered to fact check this before regurgitating this bit for decades? Yeah, me either.
But, That's Besides The Point
Despite being totally made up, there is truth in the sentiment: There is always crisis in opportunity.
Winston Churchill famously said, "Never let a good crisis go to waste."
In times of crisis like this there is danger, pessimism, and awful things happening all around us. There is blame and anger going around about who is responsible for the crisis. It's hard not to focus on the people who are making the crisis worse, like the people so selfish (or hopefully just uneducated) enough to put others lives at risk by going out this past weekend. But at a point, it's time to move forward and think about the opportunities this new situation poses.
If you can get beyond the danger and negativity, maybe you can find new opportunities that didn't exist 2 weeks ago.
In every crisis there are new opportunities that arise
I witnessed it first hand during the years after the last financial crisis. I watched entrepreneurs and investors who had been careful to conserve capital, buy up stocks and properties at the lowest prices seen in a decade. Doing the books for vacation rental owners, I could see the astonishingly low price they were able to acquire their portfolio at during the time of crisis.
Some other examples that come to mind:
Reconnect with your family and friends
Reconnect with your true life purpose
Reconnect with God
Learn a new skill
Care for family and friends
Transition to another career that you are more passionate about
Create or write something new
Find a new business opportunity
Don’t Waste This Time
In 1606 a plague swept England, and Shakespeare was quarantined in his home. During that time, he wrote Macbeth, King Lear, and Antony and Cleopatra.
In 1665, Cambridge University closed for the year because of the Great Plague of London, and a young scholar named Isaac Newton was sent home. While at home, he discovered calculus and refined the ideas that later became his theory of gravity. The proverbial apple that fell on his head did so at his house, not his work.*
Shifting From Focusing on the Danger to the Opportunity
I'm writing this post from Medellin, Colombia where by complete happenstance, I plan to be for at least the next 6 weeks with my childhood friend to ride the virus out. Although there are only 306 cases and 1 death so far, it appears the Colombian government is taking the threat much more seriously than the U.S and Europe did at this stage of the game.
The borders are completely shut down, and NO foreigners are allowed in the country anymore, PERIOD. We can't go to the gym anymore. We're only technically allowed out of our apartment twice per week. We get more strange looks now walking around as gringos since there are very few expats who have stuck around after the announcement that international flights will soon be cancelled and the U.S state department has warned that we likely won't have commercial means to leave.
Although the city has felt tremendously safe for 3 weeks and the locals have been welcoming, it's still easy to focus on the worst case scenarios (especially after watching a season of Narcos). What if the city goes on lockdown and the cartels get involved in day-to-day life. What if there are riots in the street? What if there's a run on the banks and I can't get cash out? What if their currency collapses and people are desperate? What if this recession last for 2 years and all my assets tank another 50%?
Right now, it's easy to focus on the danger part of the crisis. But once you open your eyes to the opportunity, you realize it's bigger than ever.
I'm personally using this time to grow my audience of Vacation Rental Managers and STR owners. Now has never been a better time to grow an audience. There is so much confusion, fear, uncertainty and doubt that business owners need help with.
So far in the first week of blogging everyday, I've seen some great traction without paying a cent for marketing. We have close to 1000 subscribers so far.