I have never seen so much uncertainty in my life.
There’s uncertainty about:
Health: How bad will this virus get worldwide?
I’ve addressed this in my posts, and in my Instagram Lives every day at 2 p.m., by looking at all the data and talking to the experts.
My own view is that the pandemic takes three–four months from beginning (100+ cases in a country) to end. And in the middle of that, it “peaks.” Which means the number of new cases starts to stabilize and go down.
We’ve seen this pattern in China, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, etc., even though they all used different strategies for fighting the virus. They all had about a three–four-month time span, with a peak right in the middle.
It’s hard to tell, but it looks to me like the peak has already been reached in Italy and Spain. The key number to look at is “number of new daily deaths.”
If this theory continues to hold up, we should see a peak in the U.S. around April 15, give or take a week. And basically an end to the virus in early June.
Financial: What’s happening to my job? What’s happening to my money? Etc.
Societal: What will the “new normal” look like?
That’s a lot of uncertainty! And it’s scary.
Some brief advice: You can’t THINK your way out of uncertainty. You can’t suddenly decide, “I feel good about myself now so I will DECIDE to be less uncertain.”
It doesn’t work like that. Every self-help book might disagree with me, but there it is. We are basic animals first. And animals ACT. They don’t waste time thinking.
The way to have more confidence, for instance, is to do things that already display confidence. I can’t think my way into being a confident baseball player. I would have to work hard, practice, learn, play a lot to become a better baseball player and then a confident baseball player.
Once I am confident in my skills at some activity I love, then I will be a more confident person.
It’s the same thing with uncertainty. If you want certainty, then start to get better at things you love that you are certain about.
Be a better person: Call people you love and encourage them in these hard times. Become a better writer and start that blog. Start a podcast and get good at it. Do things and I guarantee, as you get the rush of improving at a skill you love, you will become more certain at that skill and that certainty will bleed into all of the other parts of your life.
We’ve all suffered through dark periods of uncertainty in our lifetimes. And I hate it. I really am sick of it.
I lived right next to the World Trade Center. I was in the WTC (at the Dean & Deluca on the first floor) a few minutes before. And I watched the first plane come in and then physically crash into the building while I had the second to think, “Is that the president’s plane?”
Financial Crisis of 2008:
I actually LIVED on Wall Street then. And I was on CNBC or other business channels almost every day talking about the crisis. It was scary and uncertain and I felt like I couldn’t escape it because my entire life and work revolved around it.
I was very literally at the center of both crises and I didn’t really deal with uncertainty very well in either situation.
And now N.Y.C. is being called the “capital of the world” for the coronavirus. I’m kind of tired of being at the epicenter of each crisis. But it has given me a chance to exercise my uncertainty muscle, for better or worse.
One thing I know always gets me going is writing down my “10 ideas a day” list.
I have a waiter’s pad and I sit down and write 10 ideas. The idea muscle atrophies if you don’t use it. Once I started doing this every day, after about two–three months, I felt like an idea machine. I first described this exercise in a post in 2011 and I’ve had many people start doing the exercise as well and then write to tell me the results.
Today, my idea list: What will the new normal look like?
I just wanted to bullet 10 items. I’m not supposed to write an entire novel about these ideas. Just bullet points. Something to force my brain to think.
And then for a future list (tomorrow?) I might pick out an item from this list and try to think of “10 ideas for XYZ industry in the new normal.”
In any case…
10 WAYS SOCIETY COULD CHANGE IN THE “NEW NORMAL”
1) Remote work
Up to 44% of workers can potentially work from home. With concerns of a second wave of the virus, I think most of these workers will continue working from home.
2. Remote learning
About 1.5 billion students around the world have been forced to not go to school and to start remotely learning at home.
Guess what? It turns out college didn’t really need us to be on campus after all! Who would’ve thought?
Anyone who comes up with a new business model in online learning is going to be a big winner. One small investment of mine, Teachable, an online learning site, just sold for $250 million right in the middle of this crisis.
3. Telemedicine & teletherapy
I see my therapist via Zoom now.
For medicine (a robot treating a patient can’t get coronavirus) and for disinfecting surfaces.
Every delivery company is going to surge. Postmates just became the latest new sponsor of my podcast because they know to strike now.
7. Less spending
This month I only spent money on food for my family. Nothing else. I haven’t even changed my clothes in three days. Which is probably why I’m the only one in the living room right now as I type this.
Less spending will continue for a while even though people will have extra money from the stimulus bill. Expect luxury items to come down.
8. Content is KING
More people creating podcasts, writing books, making TikTok videos. And more people spending on content. Less spending on going to movies or big events or (sadly) comedy clubs.
I’m thinking about new business models for curating content across many platforms.
9. Virtual meetups
Have you been invited to a Zoom cocktail party yet? This is like an introvert’s dream. I can go to a party and also be by myself without feeling like a weirdo. BOOM!
Possible business model: allowing people to list live virtual events and invite the public. An aggregation/curation tool for Zoom events.
10. Airlines, hotels, Airbnb, cars, tourism, travel in general, real estate in urban areas… not so good
Three weeks ago I was in the Netherlands, performing all over the country.
Today, I am glad I’m home.
James Altucher is the author of the bestselling book Choose Yourself, editor at The Altucher Report and host of the popular podcast, The James Altucher Show, which takes you beyond business and entrepreneurship by exploring what it means to be human and achieve well-being in a world that is increasingly complicated. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Image courtesy of CoWomen.