Like everyone else this past week, I’ve been stunned by the breadth and speed of disruption wrought by the corona virus.
The stock market’s slide. The cancellation of events like SXSW. School closures. Shutdowns of Apple, Nike and other retail stores. The suspension of the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. As a native of Indiana, that last one’s a heartbreaker.
I’ve also had many, many discussions with colleagues in the investment industry, angel investors, and startup company leaders about what all of this means. I don’t have a crystal ball so I don’t have the answers. But after a lot of reflection and considering those who rely on me and whom I rely on, I have this advice:
Now is a great time to invest.
I’m not referring to the deals you can get on stocks like Apple, Exxon and Delta Airlines. What I’m suggesting is now, while we have extra time on our hands and working and actually living in our homes, why not make meaningful investments like the following:
Invest in our families.
Many of us are seeing our kids’ schools, including universities, close for the next few weeks. While it’s going to be a challenge for those of us with small children, it does create the opportunity to invest time in our families. Here are some ideas:
- Cook the family meals together. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should be fun.
- Break out the board games or a deck of cards and teach the kids games like “Go Fish” and “52 Pickup.”
- Grab a ball and play catch, horse or soccer.
- Have family movie night in bed with lots of popcorn.
Invest in ourselves.
We tend to invest in our careers, startups and next fundraising round, but we forget about or postpone investing in ourselves. I know after a long day at work, the last thing I want to do is exercise. I also eat too many meals on the run. We know those with health conditions – many caused by lifestyle choices – are particularly vulnerable to the corona virus. This should be a wake-up call for all of us to invest in our health, which in turn protects us from everything from the corona virus to common colds to chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension. Here are some ideas:
- Start an exercise program. It doesn’t need to be fancy. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that we get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week. This equates to five 30-minute walks each week.
- Lift free weights at home adding pushups and planks. Three 30-minute workouts a week will build strength and improve balance. This is so easy to do.
- Get more sleep. Most healthy adults need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night to function at our best. And, if you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re at a higher risk of getting sick.
- Improve your diet. Eat clean, not junk.
Invest in our communities.
We will all be practicing “social distancing” for the next few weeks, which means limiting exposure to large groups of people. This doesn’t mean living alone on an island. Instead, be creative and invest in our communities. Consider these suggestions:
- Informally adopt a road, corner, or highway in your community or neighborhood. Pick up trash, plant flowers or do maintenance. This is a great opportunity on your own or with your family.
- Host a canned food, clothing, or toiletries drive for a local shelter or food bank. With the stress on family finances, there are plenty who will welcome the support. I have a friend who emailed everyone he knew about his food drive, providing a convenient drop-off point. He succeeded in collecting a pickup truckload of food. It was pretty simple and he managed the majority of the effort online.
- Mentor someone: a teenager, younger colleague, a startup. We all have wisdom to share. Do it online for now, in person when life normalizes.
We’re all stressed. Let’s turn it around.
As my grandmother used to say, “This too shall pass.” Although we don’t know when, the corona virus pandemic will die down, there will be tests more widely available and there will be a vaccine. Schools and businesses will re-open. Sports team will take to the leads once again. Until then let’s redirect the stress and anxiety we cannot control to doing what we can. Invest in what matters.
Be safe, be well,