My Account of The New Era

My Account of The New Era

While thinking of a suitable title for this writeup, the first mindless inclination was to call it "My Account of 2021". But on a second, more sensible thought, I realized that the intent of this writing does not just cover 2021 but goes far beyond. It might sound yet another cliched 2021 article but you can rest assured it is bigger than that. The choice of the phrase "the new era" is well thought and will do justice.

When did The New Era Begin?
You are a keen reader if already thinking about this but if not, you are my target audience. That's the very intent of writing this article; to share a perspective which albeit being obvious is clouded away from clear sight by the current uncertain times.

Coming back to the question, I would mark the second quarter of 2020 as the time when the new era began for most of the world but the timeframe for it to pick momentum will be roughly around the second quarter of 2021. The new era began when Covid-19 started making its impact worldwide, when students were sent back to homes with no definite plan of continuing their education, when industries and corporates closed down and were forced to consider other possibilities of continuing essential business activities or started operating remotely, when daily routine of working class was hampered as they started to stay at home and the household had to adopt new ways of living through the day.

Everyone was affected and the first instinct was to see through the dark night one way or the other in the hopes of a bright day ahead. On calendars, a day passed, a week passed, a month passed, a season passed, all seasons passed, but the sun didn't rise. For some, it took more than a year for them to realize that the first instinct of waiting for a bright day needs to be left behind and for others, the events are still so uncertain that they have not gotten the chance of rethinking their approach to tackle the situation at hand.

First thing that needs to be understood is to dump the idea that once the pandemic is over, everything will come back to where it was. Moment of truth... it will not. Okay, I probably need to write it again in bold, "Time will NEVER be the same as it was before Covid-19. Period." For some of you, it will be a dream-crushing reality but let me tell you it's for the good. Dreams that are weaved in one era may not come true in another with the expected results and would be better off discarded.

Factors Driving the Fated Change
Covid-19 and all the subsequent circumstances have made few things quite clear for all of us. In a very delicate, indirect manner, these times have brought the unnecessary things to surface - things that we would otherwise rank as important for us. The myth that remote working cannot keep the world running has been busted.  Digital classrooms are now a possibility. Similar "unimaginable" approaches have traversed across all fields of life. It does not end here, the effects will be inter-disciplinary as well as intra-disciplinary.

In a recent discussion with colleagues from the technology industry, we were sharing thoughts over recent privacy concerns and expected new guidelines for digital media platforms like Facebook, Google, etc. These platforms are expected to experience a financial hit as their main source of income is driven by digital advertisements which are shown to users based on their personal data which is knowingly or unknowingly shared on the internet such as through search history, clickstreams etc. It is not improbable for Facebook to face this reality soon and its effects are far-reaching as it will change the landscape of advertisements altogether and impact us - the end users. We may, most likely, lose access to free content available on Facebook, Youtube, and other platforms and will be driven to subscription based models to access curated content. With life constrained to quarantines and social distancing what would that curated content be like? What would social media be like without ease of sharing and accessing content free of cost? All these questions would now be circling the corridors of technology echelons.

These changes look small on papers but they do have a impactful snowball effect. Just in this week, Whatsapp has published its new privacy policy regarding sharing the data with Facebook being its partner now. The only choice for the users is to accept the policy or move away from Whatsapp. The recent development suggests that some users are moving to Telegram now. Is Whatsapp crumbling down? This snowball is destined to get bigger and bigger as it rolls. Similarly, take an example about the hollow and unskilled group of TikTok-ers who have millions of users following them but still they won't have any backup plan to survive if and when TikTok crumbles down. There is one important thing that is missing for consumers like them as well as for businesses like Facebook, Whatsapp etc. What's that --- will come in the next section.

Having accepted the truth that things are not going to be the same, the next question to address is what are the new circumstances going to be like? Let's be honest, I don't know the answer yet, none of us do. And that is totally fine. But not knowing how to deal with the changing situation is not fine. So let us take a stab at that.

Recipe to Embrace The New Era - "Resiliency"
In face of uncertain or tragic situations, at times, one may wait for someone to come forward and help handle the situation based on their past experiences. But for the times that are coming, no past experience is going to help and you cannot expect someone to come forward for you and handle the situation as better as they could before. This paints a bleak picture, right? But it is true. Why? Because we have now landed on a never trodden upon path. We are standing at a zero point where no one is ahead of us. May be this is nature's way of giving everyone a fair chance. This is a race that has not begun yet and this text intends to serve as a guideline on how to approach that race - a very unpolished one but still enlightening. At least better than not having one.

Getting back to the recipe! The primary ingredient for the uncertain times awaiting us is resilience. The resilient ones are going to emerge stronger on the other side. What do I mean by the resilient ones? Those who are not going to give up in such times, those who will not see the transformation of old normal into a new one as a disappointment but rather as an opportunity to give a fair chance to themselves and others. Of course, it will not be as easy as it sounds. It was never easy for the survivors and winners of the previous era and it will be even more difficult to emerge in this new one. Tables will turn. There will be conflicts and protests leading to non-smooth transitions. Resilience is the absolute requirement of the new era.

Businesses need to show resilience by moulding current flows to serve the needs of this new era that are going to change as the lifestyle habits driving the overall business landscape are changing. Warren Buffet’s quote to not put all your eggs in one basket still holds strong but maybe we should now even consider disposing off or reshaping our baskets to adapt to new opportunities. The new era is not about waiting for the change to come to you. As we all are on the starting line waiting for the starting pistol to go off, we should be ready to personify the change we want to see in the new era. It will not be just about talking or writing or thinking. More than anything it will be actually DOING things. Being a leader or follower is irrelevant. Being either is equally good based on your abilities and position, the thing that matters is leading towards and following for the common goal to make your industry, business, and team resilient by proactively adapting and staying innovative.

On a personal level too, we need to re-evaluate what new skills are needed in the new normal. Do not expect that good old skills and habits are going to help you see through the finish line. The landscape of living is changing and so we all should be.

Brace yourself for drastic changes. Do not be surprised if Yen outperforms Dollar by miles in the times to come. Just remember that the winning economy will be the one that is backed by resilient leaders, people and policies.

So yes, things won't be the same as they were over the past 20 years or so. This shall drive how we need to rethink about managing our savings and assets. This also demand from us to remember the lessons we are learning the hard way - health is priceless, savings matter, sharing is caring, caring for others' privacy is important, minimal needs should drive decisions, EMIs should be exceptions, work life balance is essential, smiles and laughters and hugs are the food of human spirit - they heal all wounds, nature is precious,. Uncertainty is annoying but inevitable. We should be prepared for it and I hope, since you have reached this point, that you will start acting resiliently.

Feel free to share what you think about this new era as you were reading this article. Your thoughts are going to be a wonderful feedback for me and for the rest of the readers as well.