We’re living in a difficult time. To help, I’ve started a short-but-sweet newsletter to navigate this new coronavirus world. I send a daily email on how to be helpful and how to get help: with a bent on technology, startups, innovation, and coworking.
To whet your appetite, here are the first three issues.
Daily Dose 001: you’re not working from home + a new focus for Bloomington’s future
1. Important distinction: You are not working from home. You are at home during a crisis, trying to work. The world has changed drastically in just 45 days. Everyone is dealing with a new reality. You may be one of the 26.5mm who filed for unemployment benefits. Or you might still be employed but you’re working non-stop because home and work bleed seamlessly and there’s no break. When you have bad days, remember that you had them before COVID-19 and you got through those too. Be gentle with yourself, it’s hard enough without you piling on yourself.
2. Amid this global uncertainty, many are wondering how we can rebuild our economy. We have pressing short-term priorities from the COVID-19 crisis, and we also have long-term needs. A hundred years ago, we manufactured furniture. Fifty years ago, we manufactured TVs and refrigerators. But we don’t build those things anymore and those companies – and the thousands of jobs that allowed families to thrive – left Bloomington. Job creation is more important now than ever. Here is my vision for Bloomington’s new economy.
Daily Dose 002: creating clarity in the face of uncertainty + something for MailChimp customers
1. Last week, Mitch Daniels announced that Purdue will accept students this fall.
Whether you agree with this decision or not, the key takeaway for us as leaders is to create clarity. The nature of a global pandemic is that it strips control from you. Control over your daily life. Control over your business. Control over your job. With a lack of control, it’s harder to build your future. But it’s still possible.
By declaring Purdue’s plans early, Daniels removed the chaos in Purdue’s world and gave back control to tens of thousands of families. Because they know students will be on campus, families can determine whether Purdue fits into their plans. If they want an on-site learning experience, students know how that works. They know how orientation works. They know how meeting a professor for office hours works. For parents, they know tuition will be the same. No second-guessing about what they’re paying for.
Other schools are waiting to decide and those delays, even if reasonable, force families to consider multiple options. In this coronavirus world where we’re already overloaded, more options cause confusion. And when you’re confused, you say no. This is especially key for incoming freshmen who are deciding among multiple schools.
By creating clarity, Purdue will likely see a boom in students this fall. Their announcement now, despite not knowing how safe it will be, ironically makes it safer for students to attend. Purdue won’t have (as much of) a revenue shortfall and won’t need to cut budgets on areas that provide safety and protection. How can you remove chaos and create clarity in your world?
2. MailChimp is waiving 10mm of fees. If you’re a MailChimp customer and have been affected by COVID-19, which unless you’re a virtual meeting software company is literally everyone, apply for the waiver. The application period ends on Thursday and completing it takes just 60 seconds.
Daily Dose 003: the Chief Political Analyst of ABC News + the 2nd tranche of PPP money
1. On Monday night, I got schooled on how to analyze coronavirus data by the Chief Political Analyst of ABC News, so I thought I’d share my learnings. If you’re a data nerd like me and/or trying to determine when our economy can safely re-open, you’re familiar with https://covidtracking.com/.
Two weeks ago, Indiana’s health commissioner said the peak for Indiana would be the first weeks of May. The White House recommends 14 days of “downward trajectory” to re-open. Based on that guidance, I’ve been looking at the number of new positive cases daily to see if Indiana is still on pace. (Short answer is yes.)
Here are a couple of things I learned from our Twitter conversation:
a. Fatality numbers – and not positive cases – are most important in telling trajectory because testing is either ramping up or not enough in some areas.
b. Use a shorter average than 7-day trailing because it shows peaks more clearly. I have started using 3 days.
As an example, my previous methodology showed Texas with just 5 days of flat positive cases, so nowhere near opening. But when you look at fatalities with a trailing 3-day average, they hit their peak on April 13, and they’re showing 40% fewer deaths now. Add on 3 more days to get to Friday, when they plan to re-open, and they’ve satisfied the White House’s guidelines of 14 days of downward trajectory.
2. While the 2nd tranche of PPP money is operating more smoothly than the 1st tranche, the application process still has some hiccups. Keep trying.
If you aren’t able to get PPP money, here are a few action items:
a. Even after we hit the funding cap, talk with your bank about completing the application still and submitting it to them. Ask them to review it for errors so it’s primed and ready to go if and when there’s a 3rd tranche. For this 2nd tranche, 2/3 of the applications did this.
b. If you’re in Bloomington apply for RRF, a low-interest loan from the City of Bloomington, that will bridge you to federal help. It’s a 2.5mm fund, which on a per-person basis is 2x of other cities, and there are still funds available.
c. That capital is 2.5x monthly payroll and (max) 50k, respectively, so if one of those programs doesn’t give you enough solvency, cut expenses further. It’s sad and tough but it’s the only thing that will make you solvent. Identify the amount of expenses to get you solvent, that’s X. Target expenses to cut by thinking about the line items where the price to value ratio favors you cutting it. Can you eliminate a cost 100% but you’re losing only 20% of the value (because you can do it yourself, for example)? Can you reduce a cost 25% (because you re-negotiated an agreement, for example) but you’re losing only 10% of the value? Identify another X/2 as a contingency. If you need another cut later, it’s best to do it now while you’re looking at the picture holistically and you’re more clear-headed.