I know it’s not conventional to start an article with a question, but nothing about this time is conventional. How are you doing?
This time has been so strange for so many. Between the barrage of information, the fear of the unknown, as well as the fear of what we do know, it is hard to envision what life looks like post-COVID.
As I write this, recovery is on the lips and minds of many. There is still so much unknown. There is no playbook for a pandemic, or the recovery from it. I give our elected officials and public servants a lot of credit for the work they have done to navigate us through the fog.
As the gradual reopening of recreational facilities and workplaces continues, business leaders will have to navigate equally skilfully. Human safety is the overriding priority, and compassion will continue to trump profitability in our collective value system for some time to come.
Though COVID-19 threw a wrench into an already ailing economy, Calgarians understand and embody resiliency.
We’ve used some new phrases a lot in the last two months. I’m hoping we won’t have to hear phrases like “physical distancing” and “transmission patterns” again for a very long time. “Pivot” is not just business jargon anymore. From the weighted blanket manufacturer making non-medical face coverings, to the distilleries supplying the front line with hand sanitizer, businesses in Calgary could school even Michael Jordan on the pivot. We have had to assess, reassess and reimagine ways to fit ourselves the “essential” box. Some people would argue that innovation only comes with freedom to innovate. Those people have never faced an impending shutdown due to a pandemic crisis.
There is incredible opportunity and even more indominable spirit that will come from this. I don’t say that to be overly optimistic, I say it because I believe it. Many businesses have relied on government subsidies to stay afloat, some for the first time ever, and inevitably that will come to an end. We can cross our fingers and hope for strong government policy to wean everyone off the public coffers, but undoubtedly, there will be a need to pivot again. Let’s not think about how we can get Calgary “back to normal.” Let’s think about how we can make it better.
I’ve spoken before about the worry of losing a generation from our city. The reality of this is closer than ever before. We need to look to our young people for guidance on how to operate our businesses in ways that support and appeal to them. This will be critical not only to keeping Generation Z in Calgary, but also to keeping our businesses viable.
Without a crystal ball, I can’t tell you what post-COVID Calgary looks like. What I can tell you is that our ability to reimagine the way in which we find our success is unmatched. World wars, recessions, pandemics be damned, we’re Calgarians and we will find a way.
It’s also unconventional to end an article with a question, but in the spirit of continuing to buck the trend, I’m going to end the way I began. What do you need to be successful in recovery? How do you re-imagine what business success looks like in Calgary?