Focus on advancement of growth and achievement.

Covid19 and the Shelter-In-Pace [SIP] restrictions have challenged everyone’s mental health in one way or another.

Harvard Health shared an article about Self-System Therapy. Unlike traditional cognitive therapy, it focuses your efforts on advancement of growth and achievement to make you feel better.

I have been apply the methodology in my work with a CBT coach over the last year. It’s been helpful to have an independent sounding board, encouragement and accountability to continuously move forward.

What also gives me hope now is the innovation that is not only addressing our immediate challenges but the holistic approach innovators are taking to help solve our bigger challenges such as climate change. 

We will emerge from the Covid19 pandemic better than ever even if the economic news now is gloomy.


Every sector of the economy is undergoing change. Researchers and entrepreneurs are developing new solutions that will make us stronger, healthier and better than before. For example:

1/ PPE Supply Chain – Researchers at the BioProducts Institute at the University of British Columbia are working on a biodegradable N95 mask that can be sourced from local materials. The new mask will eliminate the existing supply chain issues and result in a new product that is more environmentally sustainable for long term use.

2/ Universal Testing – San Francisco is developing a universal testing strategy with the capability of processing over 4000 tests/day with efforts focused on the most vulnerable to ensure equity. It may give other cities, states and countries a path forward to deal with Covid19 and future outbreaks.

3/ Food – Patagonia is “busting out of their lane” again to focus on food. An email from the founder of Patagonia, Yvan Chouinard this week outlined the revolution in agriculture that will restore the nutritional value of our food while reducing the environmental impact.


Vulnerability surfaced again in my own work this week. It seems relevant to all leaders now given the amount of change underway.

Change will be hard because employees will struggle to estimate the probability of being harmed. If the perceived risk is higher than the probability, it will hard to establish the trust needed to lead change.

There are countless books about vulnerability and leading change. Reflecting back on my experiences, there are a few lessons that are top of mind for me right now:

1/ Be part of the process not the solution. Don’t shoulder too much of the burden to avoid burning out.

2/ Fight the right battles not every battle. If a bad decision is made, find another way to make it right.

3/ Communicate timely and in a way that resonates with the audience. Easier said than done but getting it right will help build trust.

Be clear. Clear is kind. ~ Brené Brown

Achieve Peace

We need to win the Covid19 war and achieve peace.

I’ve been listening to leaders in the financial industry about what they hope to see post Covid19.

There is unanimous consensus that Covid19 will have a much bigger economic impact than the 2008 financial crisis that gave way to the Great Recession. We recovered from that crisis, but it left a massive gap in wealth that has contributed to the political divide. In their words, we won the war but failed to achieve peace.

Achieving peace means addressing the wealth gap. Some think a new American Dream is needed to grow the pie and to divide it more equally, while others are simply calling for more focus on Main Street and individual Americans and less on Wall Street and corporations. Their main concern is whether or not there is enough political will to narrow the gap. 

There is also a gap in healthcare that needs to be addressed. The Accountable Care Act [ACA] helped but it didn’t get the job done.

What’s the future then?

Learning from the past is important but the healthcare industry has recycled a lot of ideas that don’t work. If we use the lens economists and financial professionals use when assessing broader market dynamics and opportunities, we can start getting out of our box.

1/ Store of Wealth: What companies performed the best in recent months and are in the best financial position to survive the recession? Understanding why will give us new insights into the technologies and services most valuable to providers and patients respectively.

2/ Asset Type: Are industry segments still relevant given the level of cross pollination? Traditionally we’ve thought about the industry in terms of biotech, med tech, health tech, healthcare technology, insurance and services but segments imply a silo. Silos are not relevant when thinking about value in a service economy.

3/ Geography: Is geography still a constraint on delivering value? We often think about healthcare as being a local service but we’ve learned through medical tourism that people are willing to travel for a better price, higher quality of care and better service. Covid19 creates the opportunity to re-evaluate the types of service that should be delivered locally and virtually versus those that are better delivered in Centers of Excellence [COEs] and teaching facilities.

4/ Global: What systems failed under pressure? Covid19 has made it clear that we are all affected by others around the globe and dependent on others around the globe. We need to design redundancy into those systems to prevent future failures and to restore the confidence of provider organizations and the public.

This is the beginning of a big shift that will change how we operate, who we work with and who we serve.

Beyond Healthcare

Covid19 presents an opportunity for changes to industries that affect the health and wellbeing of all Americans and to incentivize meaningful innovation that will help lower the cost of healthcare and achieve peace.

Covid19 Stimulus

How long can stimulus be used to sustain the economy?

I’ve been reading Paul Krugman’s latest book, Arguing with Zombies to better understand the stimulus funding and debt. The numbers are eye popping.

Economic stimulus is a proven way to restore confidence and to reduce the severity of market cycles. There is a depression era framework that supports the generous use of stimulus funding to return the economy to full function. The resulting debt gets repaid in following boom years.

However, we might be in some uncharted territory with Covid19 because it’s harder to quantify the need and the impact when the virus hasn’t been contained.

The question then is how long can stimulus be used to sustain the economy? Economists are coming up with different answers and some of the answers are probably making Republicans uncomfortable. Hence, the desire to get everyone back to school and work as quickly as possible.

How + When

No one has the answer to that question yet either but in Arguing with Zombies, Paul lays out a framework for public intellectuals. It is good for everyone to understand and for leaders to use especially during times of disruption and transformation.

Framework for Public Intellectuals [and Leaders]:

1/ Stay with the easy stuff. 

Keep with proven data and things that have a right answers rather than sharing theories of things that may or may not pan out.

2/ Write and speak in plain language.

Maintain the integrity of the content while conveying the information in a way that is accessible to everyone regardless of education and background.

3/ Be honest about dishonesty.

Call out disinformation and policies made in bad faith. Policy decisions that affect human life should be based on verifiable facts.

4/ Talk about motives.

Everyone and every company has a motive. If we can’t be open about our motive and discuss it, than there is probably something fundamentally wrong with it.

Everything doesn’t have to be political.

I was delighted when Gavin Newsom acknowledged President Trump for fulfilling all direct requests that he could. His action follows the old adage of give credit when credit is due.

With that said, we need to look at the whole experience and outcome of the Trump Administration as we head into the 2020 election and consider how much of a role government should play in reducing market risk and inequality.

Covid19 has highlighted the level of existing inequality in deaths and infection rates. Lower socioeconomic classes have paid a higher price.

Companies are writing into the Wall Street Journal [WSJ] about their contributions to the Covid19 relief efforts. Many are backfilling gaps that should have been filled by the Federal Government.

A recent WSJ email questioned whether we’ll see a heightened level of corporate responsibility for all stakeholders following the Covid19 pandemic or a return to business as usual. What are your thoughts?

Arguing with Zombies

As you might guess, Arguing with Zombies explains why we keep having the same debates on key issues such as healthcare, climate change, inequality and debt.

Paul distills the facts and explains the motivations behind the related policies using his framework. It’s a good book to add to your reading list now.

Own the Issue

Why owning the issue will likely result in a better outcome.

A colleague shared the latest podcast from a16z with ideas of how government funds could be distributed to small businesses with the help of accounting software vendors. Sounds like a good idea.

The podcast ended with a discussion about stock buybacks vs dividends that didn’t address any of the related issues with declining levels of R+D, capital investments or the spread in SW+B. Touchy issue and probably one that’s not fair to discuss with such a narrow lens.

However, it got me thinking about the importance of owing the issue.

Valid Reasons

There are valid reasons for stock buybacks. For some companies, debt has been a cheaper way for management to fund the company given that interest rates have been artificially low since the great recession. Returning capital via stock buybacks may also be more tax efficient but the end result for investors is also different.

Stock buybacks may be a problem for some companies trying to qualify for Covid19 relief funding. Given the amount of distrust around stock buybacks, any action other than owning a questionable management decision will likely make matters worse. 

We see the consequences of downplaying issues and denying statements play out every day in the current political landscape. 

Great Recession

During the 2008 financial crisis, I laid off staff and closed my office. It was all done so quickly that I didn’t even have time to think about the fallout. 

The timing unfortunately coincided with my E2 renewal. E2 visa holders have to present detailed business plans, tax returns and other business records to substantiate their [re]application. 

I was informed that other E2 holders were being deported and that the odds of a successful petition were low given the state of my company.

Against legal advice, I wrote the INS. In short, I admitted to be out-of-compliance with the requirements and explained what I was doing about it. It took the INS almost a full year to review my case, but they eventually granted me an extension. Talk about a stressful year.

My attorney chalked up the outcome to the “Immigration Gods” being on my side. For me, it made the “own it” lesson really clear.

Even if the personal consequences at stake are high, own the issue. If you do, the outcome will probably be better than you expect.

Finding some comfort is important.

Lance Armstrong’s books gave me and many others some comfort during the Great Recession. I love the story of him falling down on the 5th tour and how he kept telling himself to get up. He got up and won. His legacy has been tarnished but his words still resonate with me.

Many are reportedly finding comfort in Brene Brown’s books and new podcast now.

If wrapping your brain around the concept of vulnerability is not a high priority, just remember to lean into the tough conversations and know that you’re not alone. Everyone is going to be touched by Covid19 one way or another.

Community Mat update

I have been teaching Pilates Mat to a small group of health tech executives and was supposed to start teaching at the General Hospital this week.

With live classes on a Covid19 hold, I’ll be offering on demand sessions soon. If you’ve never done Pilates, now is your time to try it out. A few Pilates sessions/week will make you feel better.

You can sign up now to get early access. Classes are free.