I have had the pleasure of being on over a dozen podcast interviews as it relates to promoting my new book, Now What? A Practical Guide to Figuring Out Your Financial Future. Podcasting is new to me but talking comes naturally so I figured I could pull it off.
The intended market for the book is Millennials and Gen Zs who are just becoming financially aware. Coincidently, this is also the group that is impacted directly by the pandemic and seismic shift to our economy. Naturally, the conversation has turned to what I have determined is the most popular question that I have been asked, “What advice would you have for the person out there who is being disrupted by the shutdown?” It is a great question and happens to be the focus of this blog.
The advice I give is the same advice that I gave myself in the last economic recession, the Great Recession of 2008-09. I told myself that I had two options on how to respond. I could either buckle under the adversity and cower under my desk or face the adversity head on and use it to lift me up. Think of a majestic eagle facing strong winds using the wind to create lift and rise to new and exciting heights. Being the son of a hard-working immigrant, the latter option seemed to be in my DNA and is the path I chose.
During that time, I had a conversation with a client who was a child during the Great Depression. She told me a story of how her father had lost his business during that economic downturn. Rather than wring his hands in distress, he went to his wood shop and started working. He needed to feel productive and worthwhile, when the reality was just the opposite for him and his young family.
As it turned out, his efforts created the houseful of furniture that my client is still enjoying today. Out of this trial her father created furniture that will long survive him and his then aged daughter. I could not have received a more poignant message.
I am not that handy with woodworking, so I knew that was not an option for me in ’08-09. However, I needed to feel productive and in control of something. I can attest that I was not in control of the markets, the congress, interest rates or any bailouts, so I started writing. Instead of becoming a woodworker I became a wordworker (clever huh?)
I would rise at 4:45 am, while the house was quiet, sit down at my computer and start writing. I wrote a complete novel during that time, one which will never see the light of day, but started me on a journey. I participated in (and won) the “National Write a Novel in a Month” program in November of 2015. This helped my confidence take on the task of writing the book I mentioned at the beginning of this blog.
My daughter asked me to write an instructional guide for young people who are just starting out. I did what any good father would do… I wrote the book. Because I had the practice and was used to writing 50,000 to 75,000 words I was not overwhelmed by the task. I know it is not a houseful of furniture, but I do hope that it will help a person create a life of financial well-being.
So back to the question… I would tell any young person (or any person for that matter) the two options you have are 1) Buckle under due to the pressure of our current time or 2) Turn and face the adversity directly and use the force as leverage to rise up. This time can be turned into an exceptional gift with which a person can reinvent themself, learn new skills and prepare for the other side of this.
Ask yourself what you can be doing during this time to put yourself in a better position once this pandemic passes and we return to our new lives. Expectations are incredibly low at this moment due to the shutdown and the pandemic. This creates cover for you to explore, learn, read, and re-create your self in the image that will best serve you for years into the future.
Go, be amazing.