Four months after the world went into coronavirus lockdown, the time seems right to do a deep dive and unpack what’s been going on with two people who are in business like me. Take the pulse, if you like, on what we know, are still learning and can only imagine.
Entrepreneurs Perry Mardon and John Anderson—who are also dear and trusted friends of mine—join me for new Perspectives podcast ‘Lockdown: The Way Out’. It unpacks what’s been going on, how we’re approaching things, and what we’d probably do differently if there was a next time.
This is the conversation about policy, prosperity and people's lives that I've been wanting to have publicly since lockdown started.
Behind closed doors with friends, family and my husband JP, I've debated the financial, economic and mental health merits of lockdown in the context of knowing the overwhelming dialogue around the response of governments to the pandemic was people's health first.
Perry was called "a heartless human being" when he one shared his thoughts about that online. "I wasn't saying I knew the best answer, just, 'Can we have a dialogue about this? If you shut us down millions upon millions are going to die as a result," he says.
“I was using the lesser of two evils arguments.
"Okay, you can go into lockdown and shut us down for health issues but the ramifications of that are obvious. You’re potentially going to have way more people in the Third World and maybe the Second as a result of shutting everything down to save people dying from COVID."
I haven't really spoken about my pragmatism until now.
Knowing that I'm really fortunate to be in a position where my businesses have been among the few that have thrived during lockdown, what I can say is my concern with the health cost is that Australia has 104 deaths as of this week.
Most years 1000 people die of the 'flu. More people die on the roads driving cars. We are reacting so incredibly strongly to something where the price we're paying healthwise is current so small.
The price we're heading for in the next couple of years is going to be massive. There will be people who can never reclaim their lives, who literally will never be able to provide for their families again.
Like Perry, I don't have the best answer but Perspectives is all about just that, and it felt important to finally be talking about lockdown.
Until now, I've felt my silence has made me complicit and I have a real wrestle it constantly. I wrestle with my conscience around how I have stayed quiet because I make a point of not being political publicly. Still, I feel real loss about what I've given up.
”The insanity that this was not addressed up front is amazing. And the other aspect of this is the level of denial I saw in people and see still in them. I still think most people aren’t aware of where we’re going, and that scares me," says Perry.
The conversation was so fascinating that we ended up talking for over two hours, which means the podcast is split into two parts.
Apart from socio-political commentary, John, Perry and I shared our best business strategies for now and moving forward.
John made me laugh with his fabulous advice around finding opportunity: "Fish where the ducks are quacking." You get it: throw your rod in where there are bites. Make it easier by going with the tide.
“To do something new feels risky and scary but it could be the riskiest thing in the world to stay where you are," said John, who says what is needed now is not just pivoting "but knowing where to pivot, which data points are you using to get new trends and then upskilling.
"Otherwise you're going to get eaten alive by other people who are pivoting as well but they're better at it."
Perry advises anyone wanting to keep their business firing—or start a new one—to be aware of trends. "This means you have to be more aware of the world than you’ve ever been," he says, saying you have to be “awake”.
With that in mind, “There’s more money to be made in these emerging markets than you’ve probably made before. If you’re first in, if you see and understand them there’s really good money to be made, it’s just being awake to those trends.”
Also thrown into the mix: meditation, daily rituals, surfing and value systems. Perry's is love: "My family is the most important thing to me. I have a dedication to love. I believe in a noble cause."
Lockdown: The Way Out with John Anderson & Perry Mardon | Perspectives Podcast with Sharon Pearson out July 1.