COVID 19 – Short Essays

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Over the past few days, I have written a few essays that focus on how to manage businesses in the current situation given that there is no clarity whatsoever with regards to the severity of this pandemic, its duration and the likely impact on economies and society at large. There is negative news all around; I am not for a minute saying that we should close our eyes to this current reality, but we must try and do whatever best we can in situations under our control.

Here are some of these essays:

Essay 1: Philosophical thoughts to remain Positive and Energised 

Over the past 300,000 years, the human race has lived for survival which leads to fear, anxiety, stress, and depression. The negative news further heightens the stress.

Here are some thoughts to reflect during these times:

  1. More than ever before, we need to focus on what is in our control and not on things beyond our control. We already know the precautions to be taken which is to wash hands regularly, avoid crowded places, maintain a safe distance, avoid touching the face. We should as far as possible avoid listening to scary news and stories and comply with the hygiene as a suggested time to time.
  2. As work from home is mandated, use the time saved on travel to meditate, exercise, write some good life experiences and learnings; this will create a positive mindset
  3. Founders and Owners must use this time to reflect and work on creating a “virtuous cycle” by realigning business plans, cash flows and build contingency plans to make the business risk proof. Frequently communicate to energize the teams for a great future ahead.
  4. Nothing stays forever, and this time will also pass. Build robust back end processes for positive surprises and exponential growth.
  5. Revisit the priorities and trade-offs.

To conclude, figure out a way to stay safe and positive, energize teams, have fun and enjoy the creation

Dated: 18th March 2020

Essay 2: My Thoughts for Founders and Owners – Rethink Purpose and Values

“The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.”
-Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

Most of us have been busy chasing goals and have not spent enough time thinking through purpose and values for ourselves and our businesses. We all go through varying duration and degrees of anxiety, stress, and depression. We may have missed spending time with families, friends and even pursuing our passion. Most of us continue to focus on worries of the past and anxieties of the future. We rarely stay in the now to enjoy the wonderful journey of life. 

Here are some thoughts for Personal and Business aspects 

Revisit Personal Goals and Purpose

We have been so busy that we have either:

  • Ignored staying healthy or 
  • Not spent enough time managing our wealth or 
  • Not focussed on living by our core values or 
  • Not Pursuing our passion or 
  • A mix of the above

Given the serene environment during this period of Lock Down, we now have enough time to reflect on how, where and what to do to make an impact on the lives of people and build a purpose-driven business.

Rethink Business practices to build sustainable business:

1. Important to focus on cash flows not only for sustenance but also for exponential growth

2. Over-communicate with everyone, implement some positive learnings from COVID, as there is a high probability that new norms, processes, and practices will emerge 

3. Energise teams to stay calm and positive, seek ideas for growth and management of crisis from teams, customers, vendors and policymakers. Do not hesitate to request for favors.

4. Strengthen backend

Most importantly do your bit to keep all safe, positive and healthy.

Dated: 23rd March 2020

Essay 3: Conversation with the Founders of my Angel Investments ( read more) – Key Takeaways:

1. Almost all founders are in high spirits; this is true even where operations are completely shut.

2. Founders are conducting frequent video calls to energise and inspire teams and are requesting them to comply with Safety Regulations. Teams are requested to share ideas to enhance revenue, explore new use cases, suggest cost optimization measures and increase runway. Open communication and engagement have not only kept the morale high, but the teams also feel empowered and intellectually stimulated.

3. Companies are revisiting cash flows keeping in mind the likelihood of extended lockdown and longer time to normalize.

4. Founders are focussing to improve tech and making processes more robust to scale faster when opportunity presents itself. Some teams are working longer hours as their creativity and productivity have increased due to minimal operational distraction.

5. Most of the companies have retained teams except for a couple where the business normalization is expected to take much longer. Few have done salary cuts based on the slabs and employees’ financial commitments; there is lowest cut /deferment for the people at the bottom end and gradually the percentage rises, with Founders taking the highest cut.

Dated: 27th March 2020

Essay 4: Gratitude, Chinta, Chintan, and Karma to recreate Virtuous Cycle-Thoughts for Founders and Owners

The coronavirus pandemic has become an epicenter of discussion in the current times. However, I have realised that the more time we spend discussing the implications of coronavirus, we create more negativity around us thereby leading to a vicious cycle of increased anxiety, stress and depression. While we must not ignore the realities of life, we must find ways and means to create and stay in a virtuous cycle.

If we had an hour at our disposal, it is good to have 5 minutes of chinta (understanding risk and gravity of problem), 10 minutes of Chintan (finding solution), and balance 45 minutes of single-minded focus on karma (execution of the task at hand). This is the best recipe to achieve our dreams.

Some tactical thoughts: 

  1. Every day starts by thanking people who are making life easier for us and making positive contributions.
  2. Make a promise to commit time, money, and energy to make a positive impact and then focus on karma.
  3. A single-minded focus on opportunities at hand to inspire and energize people in our companies and ecosystems.
  4. While it is good to make suggestions but avoid repetition of what has been already shared, it may not be intellectually stimulating.
  5. Avoid listening to negative news as nothing major is coming to light other than increasing anxiety and fear.

Dated: 13th April 2020

Essay 5: Virtualisation of Businesses- Implications:

The coronavirus pandemic has brought about accelerated virtualization in businesses. It is my belief that this accelerated virtualization is possible today because of the availability and congruence of digital technologies, bandwidth, cloud, and computing power.

The key question to ask here is whether this virtualization is being viewed as a growth and/or survival strategy by the businesses. In this regard, the founders and owners need to think hard before deciding on the extent of virtualization.

 Some philosophical questions to be addressed in this respect are as follows:

  1. How ready are stakeholders in the ecosystem and company to accept and take time to adopt this new normal of engagement?
  2. What is the importance of virtualization in the survival and growth of the business?
  3. How will industries, industry structures, and new competitors evolve and what will be the impact of the same on the business and business models?
  4. How will the culture evolve in virtual organizations? Will it become more transactional? Will there be bonding, trust, transparency, and empathy amongst people? How will they feel connected?
  5. How will the business practices evolve, gig vs long term, verbalization vs ownership, fixed vs outcome-driven revenues?

Dated: 20th April 2020