• I view things through the lens of business. That’s the core of this book—how the pandemic will reshape the business environment. …I examine how the pandemic has favored big companies, and big tech most of all.
• I begin with two theses. First, the pandemic’s most enduring impact will be as an accelerant. While it will initiate some changes and alter the direction of some trends, the pandemic’s primary effect has been to accelerate dynamics already present in society. Second, in any crisis there is opportunity; the greater and more disruptive the crisis, the greater the opportunities.
• There is a saying attributed to Lenin: “Nothing can happen for decades, and then decades can happen in weeks.” It wasn’t Lenin, but Scottish MP George Galloway (great name).
• Whether the U.S. is headed for a Hunger Games future or something brighter depends on which path we choose post corona.
Scott Galloway, Post Corona: From Crisis to Opportunity
We are not at the end. We are not near the end. But, maybe, hopefully, we can see the end.
I’m talking about the pandemic. The numbers are still so high. So, so many have caught the disease. So many have died from the disease. So many more will die.
But, the vaccine looks like it will work. And, as Melinda Gates described in her book The Moment of Lift, once technology brings us the solution (the vaccines), now the challenge is the delivery challenge. And we are in the midst of that imposing challenge.
So, it is not too early to think about life after the pandemic. I have now presented three books that can help us do that. One of them, written before the pandemic, is Digital Transformation by Thomas Siebel. This book explained that the world is becoming more and more digital; a becoming that has truly accelerated during the pandemic.
The second book is the new one by Fareed Zakaria, Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World. This is a terrific book, and I have now presented my synopsis of this book to quite a few groups. It is quite a big-picture book.
The third one is the just-published Post Corona: From Crisis to Opportunity by Scott Galloway. I presented my synopsis of this book at the January First Friday Book Synopsis. It is a good book, dealing more with specifics of business realities post-corona.
In my synopsis, I always ask What is the point? Here is what I wrote is the point of this book:
• Things were already changing. The global pandemic accelerated the change(s). Dramatically. What will the business world look like when we come out on the other end. There will be: big winners; and digital everything.
And I ask Why is this book worth our time? Here are my three reasons for this book:
#1 – This book is quite an overview history of the rise of big tech; and why big tech will keep rising.
#2 – This book provides some frightening warnings about the challenges – the survival challenges – for many companies and brands.
#3 – This book provides an example of, and a call to, a true big picture/big context look at the world in pandemic, and post pandemic.
I always include Quotes and Excerpts from the book – the “best of” my highlighted Passages. Here are quite a few of the ones I included from this book in my synopsis:
• For decades, companies invested millions of dollars in equipment for virtual meetings, hoping to diminish distance. And for decades, not much happened. Multimillion-dollar video conference systems didn’t work, and faculty resisted any tech more complex than Dry Erase or PowerPoint. Then, in weeks, our lives moved online and business went remote.
• Opportunities are not guarantees.
• OVERCORRECT For those with a path to the post-corona future, however narrow, the watchword for how to respond in a crisis is overcorrect. Was the poisoning J&J’s fault? No. Did the company overreact? Yes. Did it assure the health of the public and restore the credibility of the company? Yes and yes.
• …severance. You can’t protect jobs, but you can protect people. You have to be fairly Darwinian and harsh around job cuts, but then do everything you can to provide good severance.
• For every business, this is a good time to forget what you’ve learned and make the hard changes necessary to position yourself for a post-corona world.
• The gig economy is attractive for the same reasons that it’s exploitative. …Is this a failure of character and code on the part of Uber management and their board, or an indictment on our society, which has allowed these cohorts of vulnerability to form in the millions? The answer is yes.
• Apple made a phone that was so much better than everyone else’s, they spent the next decade suing the competition for blatantly ripping it off. …and Facebook made social media into a social network. • All of these companies saw daylight and dashed ahead before anyone else.
• Amazon was a bookstore, just online. …Except it wasn’t, not at all. Amazon was, is, and always will be a technology company. What Jeff Bezos knew all along was that very soon, technology companies would no longer merely make technology infrastructure for other firms. Instead, technology companies would be in those businesses themselves.
• Mr. Bezos increased his wealth by approximately $35 billion in 30 days.
Leadership is the ability to convince people to work together in pursuit of a common goal.
• A firm’s ability to control the end-to-end customer experience by controlling as much of the value chain as possible. … Take Apple. By controlling the App Store and the iPhone, the firm takes a cut of every dime spent on third-party apps.
• Our declining life expectancy is mostly due to deaths of despair (drugs, alcohol, suicide).
• Nobody wants to die in a hotel fire, but after a long day of meetings, we aren’t going to inspect the sprinkler system before checking in.
Here are some of the points and insights I gained from this book:
- The great acceleration:
- Ecommerce began taking root in 2000. Since then, ecommerce’s share of retail has grown approximately 1% every year. At the beginning of 2020, approximately 16% of retail was transacted via digital channels. Eight weeks after the pandemic reached the U.S. (March to mid-April), that number leapt to 27% . . . and it’s not going back. We registered a decade of ecommerce growth in eight weeks.
- Negative trends may have accelerated at a greater rate.
- The forced embrace of telemedicine promises an explosion in innovation.
- The great, and growing, gap…
- Households with income below $40,000 were hit hardest…
- It took the last 10 years to create 20 million jobs and 10 weeks to destroy 40 million.
- Sixty percent of jobs that pay over $100,000 can be done from home, compared to only 10% of those that pay under $40,000. — Post corona, the benefits of increased flexibility that come with remote work alternatives will flow to the already well off.
- Things will be changing…
- We’ll be dumping business travel, business dinners, and business golf (thank god) in favor of more efficient email, phone, and video communication, and what we all need more of—dinner at home and time to unwind.
- And a thought about regulation:
- Government’s charge is to stop GM from pouring toxic waste into the river. Indeed, by outlawing the wanton disposal of toxic waste, we allow GM to process waste in a more enlightened fashion, because we remove the threat that its competitor will take the cheaper route.
- Disruption is here, is coming, and will increase and accelerate
- health care will be different – distance medicine; and so much more…
- higher education will be different – “distance learning”
- A call to care about us all; the commonwealth….
- (During World War II); At every level, and in every field, voices were raised in support of the commonwealth, rather than in defense of personal property and a perverted sense of freedom. Where is that shared purpose today. We are fighting an enemy three times as lethal to our population as the Axis powers, yet today Americans don’t want to wear masks and expect the government to send them more money. Resistance to sacrifice and dismissal of community is framed as “liberty.”
- Our commonwealth didn’t just happen, it was shaped.
And here are my five lessons and takeaways:
#1 – This pandemic has changed things; and will continue to change things.
#2 – One message is clear: the move to digital is ongoing, and accelerating. If turning all or part of a business to digital is possible, it will be done.
#3 – The better the remote platforms get at emulating in-person interactions, the more that such remote platforms will replace in-person interactions.
#4 – The big (the strong) will keep getting bigger (stronger). The inequality gap will very likely keep getting greater.
#5 – Concern for and commitment to the Commonwealth may increase, and make things better. From the environment, to health care, to…
This is a good book. But my suggestion is this: don’t read just this book: put it together with the Zakaria book mentioned above, (and maybe, books soon to arrive).
And this is the worst thing I have to say in this post, and I do not like it Here is my assumption; something close to a prediction; we had better get ready for the next pandemic.
My synopses for all three of the books I mentioned, and many, many more, are available to purchase (this one will be available soon). Each synopsis comes with the audio recording of my presentation, plus my comprehensive, multi-page synopsis handout. Click on the “buy synopses” tab at the top of this page to search by title. And click here for our newest additions.