It’s Always Your Move

March 24, 2020
James Whittaker

Check out this episode on the Win the Day Podcast

“It is fatal to enter a war without the will to win it.”

General Douglas MacArthur

The title for today’s post It’s Always Your Move is an important message given everything that’s going on. Like most people, I’m stuck inside my house, but clearly the greater good is far more important than short-term inconvenience.

It’s this uncertainty that is frustrating both workers and investors alike, as we’ll go through in far more detail (remember you can always listen to the podcast or watch the YouTube version of this episode).

However, recognizing that it’s ALWAYS our move helps us feel empowered and take the actions to overcome whatever adversity we face. Yes, even a silent killer that is bringing the global economy to its knees.

First, let’s talk about the situation so far. We know that in some countries there are limited respirators available, and this means that communities, hospitals and governments are faced with extremely challenging ethical questions, like who deserves the respirator or hospital bed the most.

  • Does a single 30-year-old deserve a respirator or hospital bed more than a 50-year-old father of three?
  • Is the life of a sick doctor who requires a huge amount of medical care more valuable than three other people who AREN’T doctors and need only one-third of the resources each to keep them alive?

These are actually a lot of the types of questions that are holding up the widespread availability of self-driving cars because they’re asking similar questions about where to draw the line on whose life is the most valuable, whether they be passengers in the car, pedestrians outside the car, or animals on the road. Even in the car—should it prepare for an accident by moving the children or someone in the passenger seat out of harm’s way, or should it protect the driver first?

It’s a conversation that could seemingly be debated forever. But a pandemic like coronavirus has certainly created an enormous urgency around getting answers to those extremely difficult moral questions.

Italy quickly became the epicenter of the virus around the world and, given that the average incubation time for coronavirus is 5.1 days (that may change given how quickly this thing is moving), it’s going to take a while before we can see how effective the results of quarantine have been on the spread.

Different countries are trying different methods, and even in the US – where I’m based – these methods can differ not just within the country but even within the state, like we’ve seen last week with San Francisco imposing the strictest measures in the country while LA asked for just general social distancing.

We’re also seeing a lot of places around the world with only a few hundred cases who aren’t really taking this seriously. But, if we do the math, they should. For example, if a city has 500 people in that city infected – and the number of people infected doubles every day – it only takes 11 days before 1 MILLION people are infected. If you don’t believe me, do the numbers yourself. Start at 500 and keep doubling until you reach 1 million.

[Note: As more testing kits become available, we can expect a proportionate rise in people testing positive to having coronavirus. There is also the issue of high false-positive readings, reported to be as high as 10%, in those who do not exhibit coronavirus symptoms and is, thus, one of the reasons officials are hesitant to roll out testing kits to every citizen.]

That obviously puts an increasing, and eventually unmanageable, burden on hospitals since there are only limited resources like respirators, hospital beds, and staff. That’s why we’re seeing some places immediately begin construction of new hospitals and allowing recently retired doctors to quickly return to the profession so they can assist. This is all done to expand the medical capacity so more people can be treated.

As we said, there isn’t as much global unity as you would expect for something of this magnitude, and that’s what is contributing to most of the uncertainty. While different countries are trying different methods, social distancing becomes the default in the absence of a more evidence-based approach. Countries like the US are doing everything they can to buy time, hoping that summer will put a big natural halt to the spread, which would also allow more time for treatments to be developed since it’s still at least 12-18 months before a mass market vaccine is likely released.

We’ve even seen drugs that have already been approved by the FDA for a different purpose start to become widely available to halt the damage.

But the virus is so new that we really don’t know what impact summer will have. It seems like it SHOULD help, but it’s a big gamble for any country on the health of its citizens and its entire economy.

Even if the quarantine was successful, and summer started to reduce the cases, and the social distancing is reduced—what happens then? We’d see everyone return to work all at once, exponentially increasing the social interaction in offices, on public transport, and at other gatherings, and we could reasonably expect another huge bump in cases.

What about how flights would resume? Do you let everyone back in at the same time, or only allow those in the northern hemisphere since they will be in summer?

Australia is about to enter winter—would a country like the US who will have a very brittle economy risk another outbreak by allowing flights from countries who are in winter?

That’s the situation we’re in: more questions than answers.

When all this unfolded, the biggest focus for countries was on the health side, with the economic impact a distant second. Now, as we’re starting to see the absolutely devastating and almost instantaneous consequences of effectively halting the whole world, governments are starting to realize that the economic impact is becoming almost as bad as the health impact. That’s why we’re starting to see a larger focus on cash assistance for certain segments (like financial aid for small business), and for industries that are essential for a certain economy (like airlines in Australia).

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce even said recently that coronavirus is the “single biggest shock that global aviation has ever experienced.”

We’re also seeing the consideration of cash payouts direct to citizens and, in some places, landlords are banned from evicting tenants during this time.

Why have markets absolutely plummeted? Because, I said in my last podcast episode and again in this Win the Day Facebook Live, investors hate uncertainty. And if countries can’t even agree on a strategy to attack coronavirus, and they’re all being impacted differently and at different times, there’s only more uncertainty to come. This will be reflected in the volatility index, known as the VIX.

But, as we’ve spoken about previously, the market is driven by FEAR and GREED. If the major share markets, like the NASDAQ and the Dow in the US, or the All Ords in Australia, fall 40% or more from their previous high, they’re a huge opportunity to buy. We know the markets are overreacting because they’re pricing in the worst-case scenario. This comes from fear. The markets are not reacting to expectations, they’re reacting to uncertainty.

But how uncertain is the situation we’re in? It’s actually not that uncertain over the long term, which is why I’ve been reminding you every chance I get that you shouldn’t panic about the share market going bust. It is comprised of real companies with real products serving real customers. As long as there is a population, there will be consumption, and as long as there’s consumption there will be profit.

While the coronavirus is truly a wild situation, and the whole world is taking it one day at a time, this is totally normal for the economic cycle. In fact, one could make a very good argument that times were too good before it happened. Earlier this month, the US had celebrated the largest bull market in its history, one that stretched for 11 years. Something was always going to disrupt this bull market, and the culprit this time just happened to be a virus. Just as in 2007 it was subprime mortgages.

The market will recover.

I’m getting messages and emails everyday asking if this is the bottom of the market. That’s the wrong question, and there’s no right answer because no one knows what’s going to happen in the short term. A better question would be: How can I benefit from this situation and set myself up for long-term financial freedom?

Those who have spare cash on the sidelines right now and invest in a diversified portfolio of quality assets, even an index fund, that they can get for 40% off the recent high, will be rewarded over the long-term, even if there’s more pain in the short-term. The market has never failed to beat its previous high. But, if you succumb to the hysteria and sell, you’ve locked in a loss.

Make no mistake, as I said two weeks ago, we WILL enter a global recession. That’s more certain now than ever. But there are countless opportunities for those who are prepared to make decisions now that could set you up for the rest of your life. Just remember to keep an emergency fund because there will be a lot of job losses for the rest of 2020.

Think strategically, invest for the long term, and ignore the short-term hysteria.

That brings us to the second part of this post—how you should change your business to survive and possibly even benefit from what’s going on. It’s here I wanted to reflect on our earlier quote: “It is fatal to enter a war without the will to win it.”

Well, we’re in a war. It’s come to your door, whether you like it or not.

It’s like the last season of Game of Thrones, except the whitewalkers are the invisible coronavirus. This is going to have huge ramifications for those who have no idea how to handle it. But you need the will to win, to unleash that inner John Snow, and courageously and resourcefully move forward no matter how many whitewalkers are at your door or how much of your city Khaleesi burns down.

Remember, it’s ALWAYS your move. War requires the bravest among us to stand up and fight for their families, and their businesses, and their communities, so good can triumph over evil.

It’s your move.

Here’s a few steps to help you get started:

1. Step up as a leader.

Leaders communicate. Leaders stay calm. Leaders have courage under pressure. And leaders look after others around them. If you have a service business with different clients, you’re going to need to be ALL those things as you help your clients through what will undoubtedly be a rough patch.

Check out the YouTube or podcast episode of this post where I give specific examples of how your leadership will enable you to not only retain your clients but potentially gain some new ones too.

Unfortunately most professionals in these circumstances buy into the hype and are just as disillusioned as their clients. But remember your clients are looking to YOU for leadership. They WANT you to guide them, so step up to the plate.

2. Ask yourself “What’s the gift in this?”

While we’ve been on lockdown for the last couple weeks, I’ve been mostly off social media, aside from helping all those in The Day Won Mastermind group and the Win the Day group.

But I haven’t been watching television or taking a holiday – I’ve been in full day, maximum brainpower strategy sessions with a good friend of mine about a business we can launch to help people advance their careers during what will be a difficult time. Since speaking events and other meetings have been cancelled, we can dedicate ourselves almost exclusively to this new business and we’re making incredible headway. We’re doing this because we realized our time together was a gift from the situation, and it will enable us to give an even bigger gift to millions of people very soon.

No matter what industry you’re in, get your most trusted business minds together – or on the phone – and offer to exchange ideas on how you can each benefit from everything that’s going on. This is the best time ever to get your mastermind together and use that collective power to find the gift in this situation.

3. Pivot, don’t panic.

It’s during these tumultuous periods that the best opportunities are revealed. This is the best time to look at your audience, your product suite, and even revisiting the underlying mission of your business.

  • Where is your profit coming from?
  • What are your biggest costs?
  • How can you maximize that profit while retaining or even increasing the service you deliver to your clients?
  • How can you leverage the wider economic trends now for long-term advantage?

For example, we know that capital is going to be easier to get because of cheap interest rates. We know that unemployment will rise so it will be easier to find good staff. We know that the price of oil has fallen more than 50% in the last month alone. We know that this is the real arrival of things like virtual events. We know that event spaces are going to be cheap for the foreseeable future or for those who lock in a space now for something a year or so ahead. We know that people are going to have less disposable income and will be looking to diversify their income.

There’s so much going on right now. And there’s always a way forward if you look hard enough. Pivot, don’t panic.

4. Serve the community.

Coronavirus has indiscriminately run its way through the world, attacking all socioeconomic classes equally. Its situations like this that brings out the best and the worst in us. We’ve all seen the fights over toilet paper and hand sanitizer. But hopefully you’ve also seen how people are banding together to offer their support for others.

Now it NOT the time to shamelessly promote your paid service. But it IS the time to offer your services as a professional to help those less fortunate, or even just as a citizen to help others get through this really difficult time. If you serve the community now, people will remember it.

Stay safe out there and look after your fellow humans. Remember, we’re in a war, so rather than give up I want you to harness the will to win.

Just a quick reminder to check out the special coronavirus episode of the podcast for tips on how to manage your personal finances – it’s all still relevant. In the next post, I’ll share some strategies to help you diversify your income from home.

Also understand that I am here to be of service to YOU in any way I can. Email me anytime at with any questions and I'll respond to you ASAP. We can also get on a call to talk about the best way for you to move forward during this difficult time. This is totally free and to help you move forward confidently ?

Onwards and upwards always,
James Whittaker

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