Hello Misfit Nation! Welcome to another edition of "Lessons for Hannah!" In November of 2016, we introduced a new format that we are putting alongside our regular episodes called “Lessons for Hannah.” Hannah is my daughter and one of the main inspirations for the Misfit Entrepreneur. I wanted to have a place where she could go and learn from her daddy and his Misfit friends throughout her life….even after I am gone. If you haven’t listened to the first episode of "Lessons for Hannah," I urge you to as it gives some more background and tells the amazing story of how Hannah came to be in our lives.
"Lessons for Hannah" are short, very useful, and sometimes comical lessons, that I have learned which I want to share with you and give to Hannah to help in your lives. Because I want Hannah to have these for her life, I’m going to speak as though I am talking directly to her. These episodes are a lot of fun and if you think there is a lesson that we should include in these episodes, please don’t hesitate to send it over to us at email@example.com. We’d love to share it.
This week’s Lesson for Hannah
Hannah, As I record this lesson, the world is going through an incredible and challenging time. The Wuhan Coronavirus or COVID -19 is sweeping the world and literally causing almost every major country to shut down, including the United States. I know you will have some memory of this event when you are older, but I wanted to document as much of it as I could for you as of the middle of March 2020.
First, for historical purposes, it is important to know how we got to where we are at the moment that I’m doing this lesson. In December 2019, China announced that it had detected an outbreak of a new type of virus in its Hubei province, with a concentration in the city of Wuhan. As of today, there are multiple theories on how it started and right now the leading one is it came from an exotic animal that are bought in markets and eaten in China. Now, we’ve had these types of things happen before in my lifetime. The most notable virus events are SARS, Ebola, MERS, H1N1 – the swine flu, and Mad Cow disease. And because these events did not rise to the level of a pandemic (we’ll talk some stats in a minute), they seemingly came and went without any of the things we are now seeing states and countries do.
Continuing the timeline, it looks more and more like China delayed telling the world that this was happening for a period of time and people were freely allowed to travel in and out of Wuhan. This allowed the virus to spread across the world, very much un-impeded into January. In late January, the United States shut down all travel to and from China as it became apparent that a large epidemic was breaking out. An epidemic is an outbreak of a virus or disease that is localized. A pandemic is one that is worldwide.
As we got into February, things really began to take hold in other Asian countries like South Korea and Europe, especially Italy. At this point, governments around the world began to take more drastic measures and over the next few weeks leading up to today, extraordinary things have been done. These things include, shutting down all travel both inside and to and from countries, quarantining people in their homes, shutting down schools, restaurants, bars, and basically anywhere people can gather. Almost all major sports have come to a complete stop and just about every aspect of life has been touched in some way.
The stock market has crashed into a bear market and fear is gripping nations.
The Coronavirus has symptoms like the flu but is especially dangerous for the elderly which is the group with the most fatalities. Now, at this time worldwide, just over people have been infected with about 60% of them recovering and getting back to normal. About 7500 people have died.
I would be remised If I did not put some context around this. While no one getting sick or dying from something like this should ever be taken lightly, I hope that the extraordinary measures being taken do limit the impact for the world at this time. But with 250,000 infected and 7 billion people on earth, an infinitely small number of people are getting this currently. You can do the math, but it is a decimal point with a lot of 0’s after it. The last major event like this was the H1N1 or swine flu outbreak in 2009/2010. Over the course of a year, 60 million Americans were infected, 12,000 died, and the government did not respond near to what we are seeing today.
At the present time, there are about 12000 people infected and just under 200 have died in the US.
So, why are we seeing the drastic action that is basically shutting down the world and potentially plunging it into a depression?
My truthful answer is that I don’t know. We are being told that the virus is highly contagious and that may be part of the reason. The governments of the world must know much more about this virus than we do to be getting the reaction we are. My other thought is that H1N1 happened a decade ago and while we had the internet, things like Smart phones were just being released for the first time and social media was just beginning. Information did not move as fast back then as it does today and while the speed of information can make our lives easier and offer a lot of great benefits, it also has the ability to be destructive in its ability to work effectively like a virus and permeate quickly through the world. So, when someone panics, many others can follow suit much faster. I think this is why we are seeing people get into fights over toilet paper – sheer panic has gripped them.
So, what lessons can I teach from where we are to date?
First, I am developed my thoughts for this episode while sitting in airport. I took all precautions we have been told to take like using hand sanitizer and wiping things down, not touching my face, etc. But, I don’t believe in emotional panic. I believe in using logic and methodically working through things. There is a chance that I can get this virus, just like there is for everyone. In fact, many of the pandemics from the past are still with us, we’ve just created vaccines and our bodies have created ways to fight them. In fact, the Spanish Flu which happened in the 1920’s and was one of the worst most devastating pandemics ever, killing millions is still with us – most of us have had it. It’s just another strain of the flu. And while we are on the subject of the flu, the common flu will kill 30-40,000 Americans this year alone. It does every year. This is why it is important to me to have perspective and not blindly follow a tweet or a post of panic from someone online. That is a big lesson in and of itself.
Speaking of perspective, the next lesson is that perception is reality for people. Whether you agree with the responses that are taking place or not, it is the reality we must deal with because it is happening. Governments and many people perceive this virus to be worse than things like what we saw with H1N1 and others and whether that materializes or not, the events leading us to where we are have happened. This is an important lesson in that what people perceive and believe in their life becomes their reality. You must understand this in people and for yourself. And it will be people’s perception and belief that things are getting better that will bring us out of this time. Belief is a double-edged sword that can be used for positive and negative. Make sure you use it for the positive as much as possible.
Another lesson is that during hard times, there are still tremendous opportunities. There are amazing deals in the market right now to pick up stocks at fire sale prices. Mortgage rates are at all-time lows for personal and investment property. In my businesses, there is opportunity to gain market share where others are pulling back. Some of the largest businesses we know about today like Hewlett Packard, Allstate Insurance and others, got their start during the Great Depression – there is always opportunity around us if we are willing to look for it and stay grounded. Now, I’m not saying we are in another great depression, but the world will suffer from the effects of this for some time and those that know how to keep their emotions in check, are prepared, and take action on opportunity when it presents itself will do very well.
Lastly, be there for people. Be a voice of reason and understanding. A shoulder to lean on. Listen to others and help them through their challenges as best you can. Give logical insight and stay grounded in facts and not emotional reactions. There are times for emotion and empathy for sure, but not if it makes things worse for you and for others. Make sure the messages you deliver are helpful, move things forward, and lift them up. This is great advice not just times of turmoil, but at all times in our lives.
Hannah, this time will pass, and we will emerge stronger, smarter, and more prosperous in all areas of our lives than we were before. That I have no doubt. I will continue over the next few Lessons to Chronicle this event and share new lessons from it as they become apparent. Just use the knowledge you gain and the lessons you learn from this period to be a light in the world and positive force in all you do.
I love you, Daddy
Best Quote: Belief is a double-edged sword that can be used for positive and negative. Make sure you use it for the positive as much as possible.
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