Hi, this is Mike Lipkin and welcome to the Great Reopening. The long dark night of the virus is almost over. Bravo Science and Government, Bravo. It’s time to re-engage with the world. But We’re coming back different. We’re healing but we’re also scarred. Fifteen months of lockdown has left its mark on us all.
The Great Reopening is a mindset as much as an event. Despite the sunny news and the warm weather, we have some new habits that we need to break, including the pronounced tendency towards FUD – Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt.
According to a study by the Environics Institute for Survey Research, between April 2019 and December 2020, the proportion of Canadians rating their mental health as excellent or very good fell by 15 points, from 53 percent to 38 percent. The proportion saying their mental health is fair or poor increased 10 points over the same period, from 21 to 31 percent.
And, according to the June 14 2021 issue of Time Magazine, during the pandemic, rates of depression and anxiety soared to 40% of all U.S. adults, quadruple previous levels.
And here’s a fascinating insight: the pandemic slowed population growth in 2020 in Canada to the lowest number since 1922, excluding immigration: 62834. The wear and tear of everyday survival left little room for anything else.The emotional impact of covid may turn out to be greater than the physical one. And the journey into the unknown is just beginning. There is no such thing as a post pandemic expert. We’re all navigating our way forward. But like every inflection point throughout history, the bravest and the boldest people will lead the way. It’s not the fear one feels, it’s what one does with it. Fearless doesn’t mean unafraid. It means making the fear less so you take effective action.
Courage comes first, adaptation follows. The future is frightening and fascinating in equal measure. It’s what we focus on that counts. That’s the choice we’re making moment by moment, whether we’re aware of it or not. So right now, I choose to create this message. I choose to learn by doing. I choose to reach out to you. And you choose to engage with me.
Adaptation is defined as the process of change by which we become better suited to our environment. Those of us that were lucky enough, adapted to the pandemic by becoming virtual. We learnt to function remotely and we did remarkably well.
After cratering in the first half of 2020, the North American economy will grow by about 6 percent in 2021. That is 3X the growth rate of 2019. According to the Wall Street Journal, consumer spending will increase around 9% this year, the strongest growth rate since 1946.
Darryl White, the CEO of the Bank of Montreal, states that, “we’ll likely see one of the most profound economic growth environments of our lifetimes.”
The environment is dazzingly bright but it is changing again and so must we. Adaptation never moves backward. It leans into what it is still figuring out. One thing is for certain though, the guiding principle can be summed up in a single word: flexibility. According to the June 26 2021 issue of the Wall Street Journal, “Remote work is the new signing bonus.” Employers are enticing workers with promises of flexible schedules and work from home. Technology giant, Adobe, stated that its 23000 workers could spend 50% of their time working from home and they won’t mandate which day employees go into the office or track how much time they spend in them. “Flexibility means flexibility,” says Gloria Chen, the company’s head of human resources.
According to a National Post survey conducted in May 2021, 37% of Canadians intend to work less in an office and only 9% intend to do it more. 47% said they will physically go to conferences less. So one of the greatest challenges facing every organization will be achieving what Google calls “Collaboration Equity.” This is making sure that those who are remote can participate on equal footing with those physically present. We all need to become masters at managing hybrid meetings where location doesn’t dictate influence or impact.
And According to the April 2021 issue of the Harvard Business Review, the physical office will become primarily a culture space, providing workers with a social anchor, facilitating connections, enabling learning, and fostering unscripted, innovative collaboration. It will promote what the psychiatrist Edward Hallowell calls “a human moment.” This is a face to face encounter that allows for empathy and emotional connection.
And listen to this: The Human Dynamics group in the MIT Media Lab found that face-to-face interactions outside formal meetings were the best predictor of productivity.
The office of tomorrow will be characterized by three elements: it will be designed for human moments. It will be customized by technology. And it will be managed to encourage connections. In other words, it will be a place where people where people want to come because it’s indispensable to their growth and wellbeing. Which brings me to the title of this message: Bring Out Your Best For The Great Reopening. Other people’s happiness at work will be directly linked to your mood and behaviour. They will vicariously experience your emotions.
Now more than ever, we need to be acutely aware of our impact on colleagues and customers. According to a May 2021 survey by Leger, 52% of Canadians and 49% of Americans have high or some level of anxiety about “going back to the way things were.” They need compassion and encouragement in equal measure.
Twilio, a leading software development company that builds cloud based communication, surveyed 2500 decision makers to gauge the effects of covid. 95% of the companies Twilio polled sought new ways to engage customers as a result of covid. Another 92% called a shift in digital communications extremely or very critical to address business challenges. Years-long digital transformation roadmaps are being compressed into months and weeks in order to adapt to the next normal.
So here is Mike Lipkin’s 5-point Great Reopening Checklist for bringing out your best:
- Be a professor of the game. Know the data that are driving change. Be empowered by the facts. Merge your instincts with analytics. Share your insights continually so you build your reputation as the person in the know. Dedicate the time to read, listen, watch and talk to the thought leaders every day. Be insatiably curious. Choose your sources and consume them voraciously. Information is power especially when you use it to empower others.
- Get out there. It’s time to leave home. Meet people face to face. Use the warm weather to breakfast, lunch and dinner with champions al fresco. Meet them where they’re most comfortable. Go to their sites, plants, offices or homes. Remind them of the pleasure of your company. Relish every second of your time together. Rebuild your conversational muscles. Get closer while you keep your distance.
- Engage in the Power of Optimism. Optimism means to expect the best possible outcome. It doesn’t mean being naïve or pollyannish. It is an art and a science. It requires an internal search engine constantly looking for clues and cues that lead you in the direction of breakthroughs and achievement. This entire message is a deposit on your optimism account. Pessimism and fatigue will be prevalent for a long time to come as people struggle with massive change. Optimism will be a competitive advantage. So go looking for happiness. Savour your everyday joys. Express your gratitude. Celebrate your wins. Recognize the contributions of others. Grow your mindfulness through meditation and self-awareness. Interpret everything through the prism of gratitude. Grow your inner game if you want to improve your outer game.
- Create your own renaissance. This is a transformative time as great as any transition in human history. We’re all recalibrating our rhythm for a very different kind of lifestyle. This is our chance to begin again with all the experience that we have gathered in our lifetime. Set yourself up for success. Design your own ecosystem. Identify your go-to people and take exceptional care of them. Decide what your moonshot is and reignite your mojo. Inspire by example. If you’ve made it this far, you’ve just started. First, you will amaze yourself and then you’ll amaze everybody else.
- Give yourself a break. Forgive yourself in advance for the slipups, stumbles and fumbles you’re about to make. Every setback is really a stepping stone to the next level. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re probably not making anything. Be kind to yourself so can be kind to everybody else. Regularly recharge and refuel so you don’t redline. Know the signs of burnout so you keep your fire burning bright. Always have something to look forward to – no matter how big or small. I know this sounds simple but it isn’t easy. Demanding, difficult, despairing moments await us all. It’s what we do with them that counts.
So be a professor of the game. get out there. Engage in the Power of Optimism. Create your own renaissance and give yourself a break. This is Mike Lipkin and I look forward to working with you and your team soon. Until then, remember the immortal words of the boss: you can’t start a fire without a spark. This gun’s for hire, even though we’re just dancing in the dark.