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Running the marathon against the COVID-19 crisis

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COVID-19 has begun to look more like COVID-20, as it dominates and fuels much of the conversations on the mainstream media and social media as well. To you and I, leaders and business owners alike, this situation is unpleasant and leaves many unknowns. But some things are certain.

1. Life goes on

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.”
– Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa

Every government has its duty to enact certain guidelines or even enforce laws to ensure that COVID-19 is slowed down quickly, if not eradicated from the land and people altogether. Therefore, it is our civic duty to abide by the laws, and to play our individual and corporate parts to help our governments stem the crisis.

But beyond that, life goes on – it must. As every air traveler knows, we will always need to put on our oxygen masks first before we do that for our little ones in an emergency. You and I are grandparents, parents, children, families, friends, and colleagues in one way or another. We must continue to live, and to help our loved ones to live decently and courageously.

Life, will go on, and believe me, the brighter days are ahead, with a good vengeance.

2. Work goes on

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”
– Alexander Graham Bell, Scottish-American inventor and scientist

There are already plenty of disruptive measures, including the lockdown of airspace and borders, where thousands of planes have been grounded around the world. Every nation seems to be blockading itself from people entering and leaving, with a hope to contain the inflow and the outflow of the dreaded virus. Face-to-face meetings are beginning to look like a rarity too. We do miss that, and the time for those may come later.

However, we are blessed to live in the 21st century where digitalization has permeated to our homes, our offices, and our factories. With broadband LTE (even 5G) and fiber optic networks, we are able to continue to “see” and certainly hear our colleagues even oceans and continents away. We are able to continue to hold virtual meetings right now, and we have. We have long enabled technologies right from the nascent 1990s to now, to always ensure that we maintain business continuity and relational stability. Give us a yell or email or WhatsApp or Wechat or LINE, whichever suits you, we will always adapt. We continue to serve you, as you do serve your customers and stakeholders too, with enabling networks and technologies. If you have news to announce, issues to hash out, crises to fight, we are here for you.

Business, goes on, and it will without missing a beat. We are always here, as we are also confident you are.

3. Caring goes on

“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”
– Mark Twain (Samuel Langhome Clemens), American author

This is a difficult time for many. Many of people around us may already have been axed from their jobs, especially people from aviation, hospitality, and retail. Some of these jobs may never return. It is difficult to expect people to suddenly pick up new skills and knowledge after decades of work. Many countries are powered by small businesses, where such businesses may employ a large proportion of the people. For example, Singapore small and medium businesses (SMBs) employ 70% of the domestic workforce. Likewise, small businesses in America employ 50% of the total private sector employment.

Nations can only do so much to help, and we the citizenry have to supplement and help actively too. For unity is strength. A great example was the financial crisis in 1998. More than 3 million Koreans voluntarily donated their personal gold (in the form of heirlooms, jewelry, trophies, insignias, etc) to their nation, all 226 metric tons worth US$2.2 billion in under 2 months. These gold were melted down to pay for their loans to the IMF. Although insufficient, that nationalistic unity spurred South Korea to pay off its US$58 billion IMF loan in full in August 2001, way ahead of its due date (source).

Even in these times, we need to consume. Consumerism is the fuel to kickstart and rekindle a stalled or declining economy, such as one that COVID-19 has begun to create. Let’s continue to support our local small and medium businesses. Follow national laws and guidelines, but support your small business locally. For example, if you decide not to cook today, order in some local food from a neighborhood small business. Keep our families, neighbors and friends employed.

We can help in small ways. And for those of us who have fared better in the past, we can help more. Each of our nations, will become strong when we snuff out the virus in time. Compassion is the most powerful weapon to disarm all ills, prejudices, and suffering.

Caring, goes on. And the world, goes on.

Yours Sincerely