Sunday, May 26Hampton Roads Weekly

Get Ready To Bounce Back

by Michael D. Cohen, Ph.D

While we’re all bunkered at home there’s plenty to be concerned about – including those closest to us, our families, friends, colleagues, and businesses.  All are taking a hit.  Friends we’ve known for over twenty years are sick with COVID-19 but recovering.  Friends are losing their businesses, and some their own jobs.  While all of this is happening Tiger King is dominating online conversation, so you know something is more than a little off in America.

But the most visionary among us are looking to what happens next, because surely this, too, shall pass.  The other side of the curve will get here at some point and then we will be looking at each other wondering how we CTRL-ALT-DELETE our lives and our businesses.  While I see public polling everywhere about how concerned people are and the changes we are making to our daily routines, very few are attempting to estimate the pent-up demand on the other side of the curve, because fear itself is winning the day.

True, the job losses are real and that is going to limit the ability of the economy to recover overnight.  However, I turn fifty this week and I’m old enough to recall the Misery Index, the terrifying reinforcing effects of high interest rates and high unemployment.  Right now, interest rates are low, and the federal government is doing all it can to provide access to capital.  Artificial unemployment is following government mandates to shut business down, not because of entrepreneurial failures. 

To be clear: I’m not predicting when we will recover.  But the economy was humming when we hit the COVID-19 brick wall and sent us all home like many Europeans who simply close up shop for the summer.  After spending time with their families, those businesses reopen every single year.  The question remains, what do you do now to prepare for the opportunities that await all of us on the other side?

Personally, this is a great time to take stock and recommit to our relationships with each other.  Like many of you, I’ve held a Zoom Happy Hour and have caught up with old friends and far-flung relatives.  After these conversations, I’m left to wonder why I never did this sooner?  Why haven’t I sectioned off parts of my busy life to simply spend time together and have a virtual beer, while catching up and reflecting on how far we’ve gone?  For me, that’s going to be something I’m going to bring along with me moving forward.

Professionally, I’m reevaluating how I approach my work.  With the demand that’s coming on the other side, what kinds of processes do I need to upgrade, who do I need to hire, and who needs to hear from me right now so I can help them?  My business is understanding people, making sure that decision-makers have the information they need to manage and predict their professional and political fortunes.  Seems to me, everyone could use that help right now. 

I encourage you to take a step back as well, turn off Tiger King, and rethink how you can be the very best version of yourself.  Most of us have been told, simply, to stay home.  Without your commute, spend a half hour a day thinking through what that bounceback looks like in your life and how you can come out on the other side of it stronger than ever.  Again, the very best of us are already doing this, including many political and business leaders I know well.  This virus is terrible, but it is also is a unique opportunity to reset, reengage, and reboot all aspects of our lives.

Michael D. Cohen, Ph.D. is founder and CEO of Cohen Research Group, a forward-thinking research and technology firm based in Virginia, as well as an adjunct professor for Johns Hopkins University, where he teaches digital political strategy.  You can follow him on Twitter @michaelcohen and learn more about his work at