Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a business futurist specializing in business trends. Most of those include technology trends including artificial intelligence, big data, digital transformation, blockchain, and disruptive innovation, but the growing pandemic of COVID-19 in early 2020 (which originated in Wuhan, China, with warnings issued by 34-year-old doctor Li Wenliang) is another example of a business trends that directly affects the regular operating procedures of local businesses. Given the 14-day incubation period, the obvious focus is on containment, but there are also enormous public relations implications for organizations of all sizes. As demonstrated by the Shincheonji Church of Jesus religious sect and its leader Lee Man-hee in South Korea which quickly became the epicenter of the outbreak in that country, the downside reputation potential is immense. No company wants to be on the evening news due to their role in spreading the disease. No school, no networking group, no government, no church, and no university wants that either, so they are all lining up to make statements and cancel events to limit the potential spread of the virus. Businesses need to understand these implications in order to handle them appropriately. Patrick is the author of “Anarchy, Inc.: Profiting in a Decentralized World with Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain” (2018, Authority Publishing) and has lectured at numerous academic institutions including Stanford and Purdue Universities. He has studied digital marketing and corporate communications for years, and his presentation on COVID-19 is based on relevant case histories from other past epidemics (including SARS, MERS, Ebola, and the H1N1 virus). If you are looking for a keynote speaker to discuss coronavirus implications or the 8 accelerating trends resulting from the pandemic, and how businesses can survive the crisis, please review the information below and contact us to check availability and discuss topic possibilities in more detail.
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Conference Keynote Speech on COVID-19
Public relations is essential within a successful marketing strategy, and pandemics like the coronavirus make it even more important. Patrick’s approach is to highlight successful and not-so-successful strategies employed by other companies in similar circumstances. This content allows attendees to quickly identify strategies that can showcase their sophistication within a chaotic situation, enhancing their brand while competitors fall victim to the opposite outcome. At the same time, technology plays a role in all of these decisions, particularly in terms of the delivery mechanism of the message. Obviously, an email blast from the CEO makes sense, but there are countless other opportunities to add value and provide updated information via social media channels.
The Future of Pandemic Containment
COVID-19 and the coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China, but soon spread to Japan, South Korea, Iran, and Italy. Containment measures were insufficient, and cases quickly appeared across the world. In the United States, the first cases emerged in Washington State at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, infecting a number of senior citizens and resulting in the country’s first deaths. Around the world, those most affected by the coronavirus are those over 80 years of age and those with pre-existing health conditions. The problem with containment is that each country wants to proclaim that they have everything under control (including Donald Trump), and that results in delayed action to solve the problem. The other complication is that the virus has a 2-week gestation period, so those infected don’t even know they have the illness for 2 weeks. Of course, during that time, they could easily have infected many others along the way. Meanwhile, the virus is roughly 30x more lethal than the common flu, and we currently have no vaccine, so the crisis is real, and stock markets have dropped precipitously as a result. It is inevitable that containment measures will become mandatory in the future, preventing prideful countries from delaying action in order to save face.
Coronavirus Pandemic Keynote Speech
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a trend started in Canada to form “caremongering” groups (the opposite of “scare mongering”) to help people in need to connect with others in their community that can deliver help and support. Patrick Schwerdtfeger started a series of Caremongering groups for large metropolitan areas across California where he lives. Please click the link to visit these groups.
The full transcript of the video above is included here for your reference:
This video is about surviving COVID-19 and the global pandemic for business owners and business executives all around the world. My name is Patrick and in today’s video, we’re going to be covering eight accelerating trends that are resulting from this global pandemic and what you can do as a business owner or business executive to (1) survive, (2) pivot, and (3) rebuild after this global pandemic and quarantine passes us by.
I’m generally not a fan of acronyms but the eight trends that I’m going to cover today do nicely form an acronym which is SALVAGED which is appropriate in itself. Number one, self-sufficiency, then analytics, liquidity, virtualization, automation, government, exponential thinking, and decentralization. So before we get started, just so you know who I am, again, my name is Patrick, and I’m the author of the book “Anarchy, Inc.: Profiting in a Decentralized World with Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain” (2018, Authority Publishing) which has become remarkably relevant actually given the circumstances. You can find it on Amazon if you’re interested.
I earn my living as a professional speaker. I travel around the world and do mostly corporate work and a little bit of government work. I speak at conferences about technology trends, so most people refer to me as a Business Futurist. I’m always looking at trends to see where are things likely to go in the future, and most of that today has to do with technology, but, of course, in this video, we’re talking about the COVID-19 coronavirus, and the global pandemic that has resulted.
I’m going to start with a quote which was written back in the 1930s by an Italian economist. He said “The old world is dying, and the new world struggles to be born. Now is the time of monsters.” Now, of course, in his era, he was probably referring to people like Mussolini, Stalin, and Hitler. Of course, we’re not talking necessarily about that, but there is definitely some overlap, and the bottom line is there’s a lot of uncertainty today, a huge amount of uncertainty, and that’s an opportunity for people who want to consolidate power and influence, and there’s a lot of crazy things happening right now. So whether it’s literally or figuratively, this is indeed the time of monsters.
You should know that I’m recording this video on April 4th, 2020, that’s relevant because things are changing so quickly that as the days, weeks, and months go by, there are inevitably going to be things in this video that become less relevant than they are today. I’m recording this on April 4th here’s a situation according to John Hopkins. They have an amazing resource online. Just search for “John Hopkins coronavirus” and you’ll find this interactive map, and you’ll see the date and time at the bottom where I did the screen capture. So let’s do a little bit of an overview based on the movie “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.”
First and foremost, what’s the good; well, we’ve got 7.5 billion people who all have one common shared enemy/ That has never happened before. I mean, God has our attention! The entire world is focused on one situation. There’s a lot of very smart people on this planet, and a lot of those minds are focused on this one problem, so we are going to have some amazing solutions coming, and they’re going to come quickly. All sorts of different solutions. I don’t know what they’re going to be, but we’re going to see a lot of solutions coming; a lot of different things we can do to mitigate the downside resulting from this situation.
We’re also seeing a lot of kindness. There’s a lot of people are more appreciative of frontline workers and delivery people and, of course, health care workers and so on, but there’s just kindness in general. We see stories all the time of people being kind to each other.
The bad: we are going to have headline news of death and carnage for months. This is going to go on for a long time. There’s going to be a lot of pain a lot of suffering, and we’re going to hear about it on the evening news. Of course, we’re already in a recession, the new unemployment claims are literally off the charts by any historical measure, so we’re going to be dealing with recession, unemployment, death, and carnage. That’s going to be on the evening news for months and months.
The ugly: well, untold human suffering. There’s going to be a lot of suffering. That’s going to come, and that acts as a weight on all of us, because we all are human beings. We have empathy. We have compassion. It’s like wading through waist-deep mud. That’s the way I feel in my life right now. Regular life is difficult, because I know there’s so many people out there who are suffering health-wise and financially.
The credit based monetary system could collapse. I’m not saying it’s going to collapse. I’m not hypothesizing that that’s going to happen, but it could. There’s enormous strain on central banks all around the world, and we have been operating on a credit-based monetary system for a long time. It is possible that that system could break. We’ll see what happens. Maybe two months, maybe six months from now, maybe a year from now. We’ll have to see, but it’s going to put a lot of strain on our credit-based monetary system. A of course, if it does collapse, who’s going to be the winner? Well, Bitcoin would be the winner. Bitcoin and the cryptocurrencies will be the winner if that happens. But again, I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but it could, and we should keep our eyes open.
Now, if you want to understand where we’re going from here, a good place to look is the stock market. Why is that? Because millions of people are placing their bets each and every day on which stocks are going to benefit as a result of this situation and which stocks are going to suffer as a result of this situation. Millions of people all around the world, some very smart people, are placing their bets every single day, and those bets are played out in the price volume action of individual stocks. So one of the easiest things you can do to see where the glimmers of hope are, where the silver lining is, of the situation we’re going through, is to look at the stocks that are trading at or near their 52-week high. In other words, they’re doing well when all the other stocks are doing poorly, and the winners seem to fall into one of five primary groups.
The first is virtual work, so you get companies like Zoom and Slack and others. Those are just examples. Second, online entertainment. Zynga is a video game company Netflix of course is streaming video. There are others; Disney, and so on. Online entertainment stands to benefit. Consumer retail: Walmart, Costco, and others. Target and other large consumer retail companies. Even Amazon. Amazon is consumer retail. It’s online, but it’s all the same thing. Consumer retail stands to benefit. Food delivery companies like Blue Apron. Chewy is a company that delivers pet food. They stand potentially to benefit.
Again, these circumstances can change. A week from now or a month from now or six months from now, these could be an entirely different group of companies. And at any time, you can go to the stock market and use a stock screener to find the companies that are trading at or near their 52-week high, and you’ll immediately get an idea of what sorts of businesses are benefiting as a result of this situation.
Last, of course, pharmaceutical companies and medical companies that are providing much-needed materials in the fight against coronavirus. These are just two examples that I found as of yesterday. But again, they could change rapidly and I’m not suggesting that these companies are going to be winners throughout the process. But again, you can do this at any time.
One thing we have learned more than anything else is that failure to adapt is failure to exist. We have to adapt. This is a time of change. The world is going to change as a result of this. Things will change, and this video will look at some example of things we can expect to change. The bottom line is: things are going to change which means your business is going to need to change as well, and that’s what we need to look at right now.
A couple early trends that we’re seeing, and these are not the eight that I’m talking about later in this video, these are just ideas to think about as we go through this video. Number one, everyone’s going to be working from home if possible. We’re talking about the future. The gig economy is going to explode. A lot of unemployed people are going to need money, and they’re going to do whatever they can to try and get their hands on some money, so the gig economy is going to do well. We can expect new social structures to emerge. Cities and mobility will change. The way cities operate and the way we get around in cities will change. Lifelong learning, online learning; everything’s going to be online and virtual. Renewed trust in science. Now, I’m not suggesting that fake news is going to disappear. I think fake news is probably here forever more, but we do have a renewed trust in science. People want to hear from people who have real numbers. And as I mentioned earlier, an increased appreciation for frontline workers whether that’s delivery people, medical staff, and so on.
Let’s get started. We’re talking about these eight trends. SALVAGED is the acronym.
Pandemic Business Trend #1: Self-Sufficiency
Number 1: self-sufficiency. Let’s take a look at some of those trends. We’re going to see an adoption of solar panels. People are going to adopt solar panels quicker. We’re seeing an acceleration of that trend. The whole trend of off-grid living and survival kits, and things like that. Anything to do with being self-sufficient. Chicken hatcheries are booming. People are buying chickens and so that they don’t have to go to the store to buy eggs. They can get them right in their own backyard. This is part of the same trend. This is also consistent with libertarian political views, so we’re going to see a lot of that going forward, and also a lot of conspiracy theories. We already have that today. There’s a lot of that out there, but as a business owner or a business executive can you help people live off-grid and become more self-sufficient. Think about your business. Write down some notes, or watch the video again. How can you help people achieve that?
Pandemic Business Trend #2: Analytics
Number 2: analytics. We have found in this coronavirus pandemics so far the importance of data and testing and knowing where is it and where it is growing, and how do you isolate people. Data is becoming incredibly important, so what are we going to see going forward? Data is the most valuable asset you have. Data-driven decision-making has to be the focal point of your business going forward. You have to make decisions based on real data. The Internet of Things (IoT) sensors are accumulating data, and you have to analyze data using data visualization tools. Get serious about it in your business. And of course, this all relates to mapping the customer journey. What situation are your customers in, and how do you segment your marketing to touch the customer at the place where they’re at right now? What are they affected by today? That data is incredibly important, and you can incorporate that into your marketing strategies and also into you’re your product development and service development strategies. Meet customer demand requires that you understand where they are and what they are experiencing. As a business executive, how can you leverage data more effectively in your business?
Pandemic Business Trend #3: Liquidity
Number 3: liquidity. Liquidity is going to be priority #1 for the foreseeable future; certainly, for the next six months. Cash is survival. Think about the liquidity of your business. How much cash do you have on hand? How can you access more cash if you need it? Resilience is imperative. Every decision you make as a business should include: does this enhance liquidity or harm liquidity? That’s going to be the #1 thing that you should think about. Think about liquidity. What’s your cash position? We’re going to see higher cash balances on corporate balance sheets across the economy. Companies are going to have higher cash balances in the future. There’s also going to be massive central bank intervention. There already has! There will continue to be, and as I said earlier, that will put an enormous strain on these central banks, and it could potentially break the system. We’re going to have to wait and see, but it’s a little bit scary to think about. We’re already at 0% interest rates. What more can we do? And we’re just getting started, so it’s going to be interesting to see how it plays out. How can you maximize your cash position or help your customers do the same? Think about your business. You’re going to have to adapt to exist, so what can you change to increase your cash position or help your customers do the same?
Pandemic Business Trend #4: Virtualization
Number 4: virtualization. This is the most obvious one, given the quarantine. Everything is going to go virtual. People are going to be working from home wherever possible. Events, education, activities; everything is going to go virtual. Virtual reality and mixed reality providers will benefit as a result of this coronavirus global pandemic. It is inevitably going to be good news for people in that space, because it’s going to accelerate the trend towards virtualization. We’ll see more online adaptive learning. We see this with our kids. If you have kids, it’s incredible the online platforms that they’re using. We have a six-year-old boy, and he’s using Freckle Math. It’s incredible how these testing platforms understand if the child’s having difficulties, and as soon as they see it, as soon as it happens, then the system forces the child to go through additional steps to learn the material before they can advance further. You don’t need to do testing in that environment. We’re going to see trends towards less testing and more adaptive learning. You just go through different levels. The question is not: what was the score you got on the test? The question is: what level are you on? Have you gotten to level 8 or level 10 or level 20? The only way you can get to those levels is to go through that process. If you make a mistake, the system knows and it puts you through a little subroutine to help you learn that material better. We’re going to see that more and more. We’re going to see an explosion of online learning, adaptive learning, and less testing going forward. Can your products or services help people thrive in virtual environments? Can your products can your services help people thrive in virtual environments?
Pandemic Business Trend #5: Automation
Number 5: automation. This trend started 30 years ago. It’s nothing new, but the coronavirus pandemic is going to accelerate the trend towards automation. We’ve all heard of robotic process automation. People refer to that as RPA. That trend will accelerate. We’re going to see an accelerated adoption of drone technology. Anything that minimizes human proximity. How can you allow people to work without being right beside each other? Automating repetitive tasks; the simple example is retail self-checkout. When you go to the store, whether it’s Costco or a grocery store, we’re seeing self-checkout lines. We’re going to see an acceleration of that trend. As a business owner a business executive, can you automate your business or help your customers do so themselves? How can you automate? How can you help your customers automate?
Pandemic Business Trend #6: Government and Globalists
Number 6: government. When I first put this together, I debated whether to put government or globalists, but it’s almost the same thing. This is a power-grab by government. I’m not saying that’s bad. We need government leadership. But the bottom line is that the government has immediately and instantaneously received more power and a much larger influence on our daily lives. It’s an opportunity for globalists; organizations like United Nations or the World Health Organization. There’s lots of these types of organizations, and there’s a portion of the population that really supports globalists. Personally, I have no problem particularly with globalists. For the most part, I think they’ve done a good job, not a perfect job, of course, but I think they’ve done a good job. They want power. Everyone wants power. I understand that, but I’m okay with their influence. On the other hand, there are a lot of people who hate globalists, and I’m fine with that. I respect that opinion, so if you feel that way, that’s totally cool with me. I get it. I understand it, but the bottom line is that this pandemic is giving a huge amount of power to government and globalists, and we have already given up a lot of personal freedoms, and we will continue to give up personal freedoms to try and help stamp out this pandemic. Ideas have been floated about having a vaccine registry so that you know right away if the person you’re talking to has had their vaccines or not. There’s been proposals already in some of the legislation here in the United States about a digital dollar; introducing a crypto currency equivalent to the US Dollar. All of those proposals will give more power and more control to government. We’ve already seen enormous monetary and fiscal stimulus, and we’re going to see more. As a business executive or a business owner, can you sell products or services to support government programs? Maybe you’re someone who hates government and globalists, and again, I respect that opinion, but the bottom line is that they’re huge organizations with huge budgets, and they’re spending money. So for the purposes of your business, whether you like the trend or not, do you have products or services that can support what those government departments are trying to achieve? If so, you need to look into that. It could an avenue for growth for you.
Pandemic Business Trend #7: Exponential Thinking
Number 7: exponential thinking. Well, for the first time, people truly understand exponential growth. We are seeing it day by day, and we’re living through it. As human beings, we are hardwired to think in linear terms, so exponential thinking is counterintuitive. People are not used to thinking in exponential terms, because the numbers get really big really fast once you’ve been in it for a while, and it’s hard to conceptualize that. It’s difficult even for me, and I do this for a living. Almost every day, I remind myself: what if it was ten times as powerful? Or what if it was a hundred times as powerful as it is today? Or what if it cost 1/10 of what it costs today? Or what if it costs 1/100 of what it costs today? I coach myself to think exponentially, and you should do the same. We’re seeing across the whole population a new understanding of exponential growth. That’s going to be relevant to climate change. Climate change is an exponential equation. It’s an exponential evolution. It’s relevant to technology. It’s relevant to your investments with compound interest. And of course, it’s relevant to population as well. Now, we’re seeing a real slowing, by the way, in terms of birth rates, so the population boom which we’ve been in for the past 100 years will turn into a population bust in another 50 years because the birth rates are below replacement rate, but that’s a topic for another video. The bottom line is that people are understanding exponential growth more. So as a business, can your marketing tap into the public’s new understanding of exponential growth? Is there a way that you can tap into the public’s understanding of exponential growth? Can you leverage that somehow in your marketing or in your product development or in your service development?
Pandemic Business Trend #8: Decentralization
Number 8: decentralization. Decentralization is a central tenant in my book “Anarchy, Inc.” Again, you can find that on Amazon if you’re interested. This is similar to the first trend: self-sufficiency. We’re going to see economic, social, and political decentralization. This is also going to fuel edge computing. AWS stands for Amazon Web Services, and they run more than 30% of the cloud. All of that computing capacity is in large centralized data centers. They’re all over the world, but they’re huge, and we’ve seen a trend over the last five years towards hybrid clouds and edge computing. What does that mean? It means smaller data centers which are closer to the customer. If you’re in technology, if you’re developing apps or if you have some sort of software as a service (SaaS) platform, you bring some of the computing closer to the customer and only leave the central data storage and processing in the centralized data center. That makes you more resilient. Let’s just say, for example, that a nuclear bomb destroys a data center, or a meteor hits it, or a huge fire destroys it, or whatever. If something happens and a data center is destroyed, and if all of your operations are running out of that one data center, then your entire business just got destroyed. But with edge computing, when you decentralize, you bring processing power and data storage and distribute it over a network of different data centers, and even on site or on device, we’re going to see that trend accelerate towards edge computing and hybrid clouds. Amazon Web Services is a powerhouse, and they actually do a great job, but even there, we see that they’re developing smaller and smaller regional data centers to support their clients. More working from home. We’re going to see that explode. Of course, everyone’s doing it right now where possible, aside from the essential workers, but going forward, virtually working from home is going to be huge. We’re going to see those libertarian political views and self-sufficiency. Those two go hand-in-hand. So as a business can, your products or services support the trend towards decentralization? This is the macro trend. We’re going from centralized power generation to decentralized power generation, with solar panels on all the roofs of homes all across the country or across the world. We used to have centralized media. Now, we have decentralized media. Even central banks; that’s centralized currency, and we could potentially be seeing an accelerated switch towards cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin. That’s a decentralized monetary system. How can your business support this massive underlying trend, which is underneath all of the other trends that I’ve mentioned, towards decentralization? That’s really what my book is about. I’m not trying to pimp my book, but again, if you’re interested in that, you can find it on Amazon.
Here are the trends that we just covered. If you enjoyed this video, or if you found it useful, please share it with business groups that you might be a part of or groups on LinkedIn or whatever. If you found this video useful, share the video, and subscribe to my channel. I hope you found it useful. Certainly, if you’re looking for a speaker, let me know. I’m doing virtual events now. I’m even doing this particular program which is called “Surviving COVID-19” virtually. You’re welcome to use this video. If you have a group that’s getting together, you can just play this video. That’s not going to cost you a dime. But if you want me to do this program in a more customized way for your business and your company or your audience, then get in touch with me. I’d be more than happy to do that for you. Thanks for watching and stay healthy out there.
Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a keynote speaker who has spoken at business conferences in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.