Corona thoughts, part 9

So, we’re back in Covid-19 territory. The numbers are going up in the greater Copenhagen area and as such many have been requested to go back to working from home, not meeting physically etc.

It was a pain the last time. And it’s a pain again. But for me a different kind of pain.

First of all, I am much more aware of what is required to me to function well and ‘keep the light on’ this time around than I was the last time. So I am addament to make sure that the impact of the new restrictions will be as lightweight as possible for me, the team and the schedule, we’re on.

Which brings me to the second point: The team and the schedule. Because here there is a stark difference between then and now:

Back then we were very much in the preliminary planning phase with our new venture. Now, we’re hard at work to make it happen. We have milestones to meet, things to do, tasks to get crossed of our list.

And the last thing we need is for Covid-19 restrictions to put any sort of potential break on that.

That also makes it more stressful than the last time. Because this time there is not a feeling that potentially, we could just ‘wait it out’. This time we need to remain focused, get the job done and move along on our journey all while we observe the restrictions. That’s a big difference.

I realize that for many this was also indeed the case the first time around, and I am full of awe of how people and businesses have handled it across the board.

For me the situation now is somewhat new, but that others have gone before and succeeded gives me the confidence that our team will as well.

So thank you for setting an inspiring example to look up to.


Launching “A Helping Hand?”

Today, inQvation and a bunch of other leading Danish VC’s are launching the initiative “A Helping Hand” aimed at helping the Danish startup ecosystem through the consequences of Covid-19.

The idea is as simple as its brilliant: Apply and receive 30 minutes of free advice from industry VC experts on how you make sure that your startups make it through this unprecedented crisis.

The initiative reflects in a super positive way on how we think and work at inQvation. Whenever we engage with a startup we do it not only with capital capital but also with human capital;

Expertise and a helping hand in trying to help the entrepreneurs, we work with, become as successful as (in)humanly possible.

Or as we put it:

We. Help. Entrepreneurs. Succeed.

No matter, who you are, what stage you’re at, what industry you’re in and what your Covid-19 related challenges are, apply today for free advice from people who have seen and experienced more than most – and are there to help.

It’s an offer too good to pass on.


The Norwegian Real Madrid

When you think about how hard the Covid-19 pandemic is hitting you, think about how you would have felt, if you worked at an airline or a company affiliated with one.


People are not allowed to travel, your planes are grounded, you have high recurring costs for leasing aircraft, a valuable, sizeable staff you want to hold on to as much as you can and a cashflow resembling a one-way street in the worst possible way.

What’s not to be deeply distraught about? I know people who work at airlines, big and small, and it is really, really tough out there. And I am so happy, I am not in their shoes.

One of the hardest hit ones is the Norwegian low-cost carrier, Norwegian. They are working extremely hard to save the company from going under, and they are hoping for both a restructuring of their massive debt and an aid package from the Norwegian government.

Even though they are ‘Up S*** Creek’, I want to put forward the prediction that they will make it in some shape and form. But not because it is a healthy company. For psychological reasons:

Years ago there was a saying that the only reason the football club Real Madrid could keep existing with massive signings and massive debt was that there wasn’t a living banker who would have the guts to send this massive club, and their fanbase with them, into receivership.

Same goes for Norwegian, the airline.

The Norwegians are proud people – national attires, cowbells and all. I don’t think there is anybody in government or parliament with any appetite for reelection or his/her place in history who wants to be the one pulling the rug from under the wheels of essentially the Norwegian flag carrier. I mean, the name alone thrown into a dumpster fire?! Not going to happen.

But there may be one or two left who think about the one old naming rule for warships:

Never, ever, EVER (!!) name a warship after your country for the fully justifiable fear of what it being sunk in battle would mean for morale and publicity.


Back in the office!

Today is my first day back at the office for more than a month due to the corona pandemic. I have walked my kids to school and kindergarten (and I feel confident that they will be totally fine), and I feel like cattle being let loose on the meadows after a long winter indoor.

Much is being said about remote work being the new style of play. I don’t buy it. It is not for me. Both because I need the separation between work and home, and because I have found it very hard to do the job, I do, efficiently from home.

I realize you may feel differently. And I also realize that if your job entails a lot of communication, answering emails, crossing of tasks and talking on the phone, working from home may be just what the doctor ordered for you. But if you’re trying to develop new business(es), create relationships, get people onboard with exciting new ideas, concepts and businesses, there is no substitute for being able to get out of the building.


Corona thoughts, part 8

Last night we did a first in my network group under the Danish Management Society (VL): We had our first virtual meeting, and we used it as a venue for getting a situation report from our various industries in the light of the corona epidemic.

It was super interesting and inspiring to hear from the members about how things look from their end. From the airline executive whose planes are on the ground with no timeslot for getting back to flying to the architects, who use the crisis as a recruiting opportunity for new employees they now find much easier to come by than just six weeks ago.

But what was really interesting was what people have learned from it all. From the banal truths about how working remote works over the development of new online offerings in the consulting industry to people worrying about the potential longer-term fallout for society and the world as a whole.

The meeting really reinforced my long held belief that if you’re looking for a radically different perspective on things, look outside your immediate circles. Look across industries, roles and everyday jobs to get that sense of inspiration that gets your own mind going. That’s where you can get a ton of value.


Corona thoughts, part 7

When we discuss the future of (remote) work, we should not only discuss the various digital tools that enable this but also the foundation for it all to work: Great, stable connectivity.

At the start of the lockdown, I finally got our household on the new fiber connection, I ordered almost a year ago. Before that we had TV, laptops, iPads and mobile phones on a wobbly 20Mb on/off connection through copper that would have completely crashed with the added stress of fulltime remote work for two people AND home schooling.

In other words: We were lucky to get a bump up connection in time. And I have a sense that access to the right connectivity will be yet another divider of the haves and have nots going forward. Because if your basic infrastructure is not in place and up for the job, no fancy tools are going to make you efficient from a distance.

PS: My now soon-to-be-former provider adviced me to not send their router back but instead ship it to a museum. Funny, although…interesting…that a provider charges premium prices for something they know is antiquated.


Corona thoughts, Part 6

A lot of people are busy talking about how the current pandemic and the lockdown will change the way we live and the way we work going forward.

Focusing on the latter, some people suggest that the time of the office hours is dead, and that more people will be working remotely from hereon, because it is so much more efficient.

A word of caution: Don’t use the behaviour during times of great stress to extrapolate what will happen, when things get back to something resembling a normal situation again. People are right now fighting from a distance for their businesses and their next paycheck. That may seem like a lot of efficience but in reality it is just stress with extra stress and in no way something that is sustainable for the longer term.

All leaders thinking the opposite will – by and large and with a few exceptions to cement the rule – in the long term have a hard time recruiting anybody since through their actions they have shown a complete disregard for the human needs that is also part of what enables us as workers to do a great job.


Corona thoughts, part 5

Jeffrey Katzenbergs new mobile streaming service meant for the commute, Quibi, has finally launched. And is getting killed by the reviewers. You can be excused for thinking that the timing couldn’t be worse when no-one is commuting right now, but in general the service seems to be a product looking for a problem, where there is none.

The fate of Quibi might suggest that now is the time for ‘The Great Sanity Check‘; the time where you look hard at what you do and use the opportunity to really ask yourself the hard question: All fanfare forgotten, does what I am trying to build really make any sense at all?

Can you see a path to a real business? Or – perhaps better yet – can you see an accelerated path to becoming a real business utilizing what you now know from the corona outbreak as things to factor into your plan? Can you adjust to life post-corona and come out on top? It is worth spending some serious time thinking about because in all probability it is going to be your reality, whether you want it or not.