4 Reasons Why Things Aren't Going Back To Normal


When schools shut down, offline businesses closed, and work from home became the norm, part of me was waiting for things to go back to normal in a few months.

I now believe that the world of just a few weeks ago is gone forever. Here's why...

#1: The vaccine is over 18 months away

"Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst."

Last week, Bill Gates, one of the pre-eminent experts on vaccine research and distribution said that there likely won't be a vaccine for at least 18 months. That doesn't include the time it takes to manufacture, distribute, and administer it. I haven't heard any vaccine expert predict a timeframe faster than 12 months.

Barring a treatment that dramatically reduces the impact of the disease, we'll likely see some form of social distancing (ie, gradually allowing with constant testing, cycling on and off, etc.) for as long as two years.

Of course, we all hope that a treatment will come sooner, but I personally am preparing for this to last 2 years.

#2: We are seeing a Cambrian Explosion of experimentation

Most of my network is entrepreneurs who have built companies with dozens and hundreds of employees.

Many of these companies have lost over 50% of their customers over night. As a result, they are experimenting 100x more than they normally do. Necessity is the mother of invention.

For example, I was recently on a phone call with a company that helps people do large offline events. They saw their business disappear overnight. Two weeks later, when you look at their website what you see is a virtual event company. They reinvented the entire company in two weeks.

Entrepreneurs follow problems and try to solve them. So we'll also see a huge influx of entrepreneurs creating software and solutions for a more digital, virtual world.

Most experiments will fail, but the ones that succeed will change the paradigm for everyone else. In other words, once there is a vaccine, many people will continue using these new and amazing products and services.

#3: People are getting more comfortable with a digital and virtual lifestyle

"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." — Heraclitus

There has been a huge rise in computer peripherals as people buy webcams, microphones, chairs, desks, higher speed Internet, mouses, and other tools that make working for a computer more easy.

It's getting more comfortable to talk to someone via a webcam.

Many people who resisted learning software and tech will force themselves to figure it out. Their livelihood depends on it.

We are also changing culturally. Existing businesses will have more flexible work from home policies. New businesses will consider being virtual from the start.

Collectively, we will have new habits that we are comfortable with.

So when the world goes back to normal, we may not.

#4: Digitization is here to stay

The trend toward digitization isn't new. It's been happening in decades. Just look at industries like books, movies, media, tv, and music.

Take music as an example. 25 years ago people were buying CDs in physical stores and playing them on CD players. Now, people stream any song they want for a flat monthly fee, and they listen to it on their smart devices with their smart headphones. New devices. New business models. New industry structure.

When digitization happens, it permanently and fundamentally changes the field.

So, what we're seeing now is the acceleration of trend that's been happening for decades. At a fundamental level, we're not seeing something completely new that will come and go. We're seeing something that will stay forever.

Bottom Line: Start Reinventing Now

My business has not been impacted... yet. I could rest on my laurels and wait until something forces me to.

But knowing what I know now, I believe that this "wait and see" mindset a luxury none of us can afford. Some businesses and people were impacted first, but the shockwaves will spread to everyone.

Therefore, I've decided to embrace reinvention rather than avoid it.

At this point, for me, this means actively:

  1. Participating in multiple, diverse communities to see what's happening on the ground.
  2. Using mental models to understand different scenarios and second-order effects.
  3. Innovating in my business. This means looking at creating new types of content and courses related to mental models and learning how to learn.

How are you reinventing right now?