Fixing The Puzzle – How We Will Build Founders Live In The Era of Coronavirus

Above and beyond anything else at this moment I hope you are doing well and staying healthy and safe. My heart and spirit are with all of you and please never hesitate to message me if you need to talk or need a perspective on your business. I am here for you, seriously. 

It’s been a while since I gave a world tour or business update – mainly because I find it energetically time consuming to craft these updates in a way I feel complete – and then the world was pulled right out from under our feet so it’s taken some time to get my thoughts and words straight. Many have speculated and inquired about how I am handling the recent Coronavirus outbreak and how it will affect my travels, life and the future of Founders Live. So nevertheless, it feels like as good of a time as any to give an update and provide insight into some ways we’re moving ahead in this upside down world. Apologies for the extended version but it’s a good read as it includes major changes and important points of my reasoning.

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A look at our events currently due to Social Distancing (courtesy of Founders Live DC)

I will not mince words here so bear with me with my straightforwardness. You may have noticed I have been a bit quiet recently which is due to shock, observation, digestion and learning of what is happening, as well as in deep thought of how to move forward personally as well as to to change our global brand. Clearly what is transpiring is something no one on earth has ever experienced and probably like you, it’s taken me a bit of time to swallow the pill. If you are like me, you are feeling like we have seen this movie before… and it didn’t end well. It’s like if someone came over to your almost finished puzzle of life and just flipped the whole damn table over. Yes it is a frightening, scary, life threatening or worse. There are no words I can insert here which would do justice to what you may be feeling at this time, so I won’t. But as this virus spreads far and wide affecting many millions of people creating fatalities on a level we have not seen from a health epidemic in recent history, it will extend far longer than we initially thought to the point of permanently scarring our society. I am deeply concerned for human life and closely observing trends and reading qualified and reputable sources to stay educated on the latest information. And of course hoping for the best. 

But even though it feels like this pandemic is quickly escalating out of control, writhing in fear poses an even larger threat of throwing our world into an economic and health tailspin. So we must stand strong – we must resist the fear. In fact, we must move towards it and through it. I have made the decision to not add to the panic or fear mongering. Instead, as a leader I am listening, learning, adjusting my actions and attitudes, and pivoting where needed to bring solutions to the evolving problems our world is facing. Our goal remains at Founders Live to never stop inspiring, educating and entertaining entrepreneurs to do great things around the world, whether that be physically or virtually.

I also acknowledge my unique leadership position globally. As the Founder and CEO of Founders Live, what I do reverberates out to many people around the world. Many of these people (maybe you!) are founders and entrepreneurs in their own right and are economic generators in their cities and countries. They are also working hard to create value in the world and are looking for mentors, leaders and positive examples. What should they or you think if I stop, give into my fears, and isolate myself from the world?

So I am not stopping. In fact, I have more fuel in my tank than ever before. I am choosing to do this because it not only is the best option at hand (I mean, what else is there to do except keep paving a path and going around the brick wall if necessary?), but it is what the world needs at this time. Damnit, this world is absolutely aching for better examples of great leadership. And the world must continue moving forward, businesses need to continue to be launched and grown, economies need healing, and people need more things to be excited and optimistic about in their life. Founders Live will continue to be a source of joy, inspiration and opportunity to many people around the world. 

With that being said, as we continue to read, watch, talk and learn about the ongoing developments around the world one thing has become very apparent – a big change has already started and the world (our lives) will forever be different. How? What exactly? How long or to what extent? We don’t know these answers and quite frankly they aren’t important. The directional aspect of the universe is what I am keen on now and we must acknowledge things are different – the lasting effects of COVID-19 will result in irreversible changes to global society

Within these last few weeks I have resolved to the notion that we are no longer what Founders Live was before. We can’t go back to what was… no matter how hard we try or how much we want to. No more in-person events. For how long? Will we bring them back? We hope so but don’t know, and given what seems to be coming from the experts we’ll be dealing with the ramifications of the virus/infections/health crisis/quarantine/recession for years to come. It’s better to overshoot and just change now then be stuck in identity crisis purgatory as a business flounders. 

Today, we are embarking on the New Founders Live. Call it Founders Live 2.0 or whatever, but it is a new approach, mindset, execution and experience. For the foreseeable future we are now a 100% virtual company, community and event experience. We are now (re)creating, building and expanding with the NEW world in mind. The quicker we accept our new reality the better off we will be as people, business owners, leaders and founders. Some of this change is immediate (change to virtual experiences) and some of the change will unfold over the next 6-12 months but you should know this brand has already started the change, and will be stronger for it.

What is the new reality we must accept and move forward with in mind?

  • Social isolation, distancing and semi-quarantine into 2021 and beyond
  • Start, stop, hesitation, restarting, and stalling of the economy (US and Global)
  • Apprehension and anxiety to large social events and fear of being in tight quarters with lots of people breathing on each other
  • Awkwardly wearing face masks and looking at others who are/aren’t with unease
  • LOTS of health issues around us and possibly seeing more death than we have seen before
  • Social unrest and possible uprising, revolt depending on the nation or region
  • MASSIVE unemployment and long stagnation of the global economy, or at least tremendous whipsaw effects in the markets for years to come
  • A majority of society exhibiting residual negative psychological tremors and falling into depression from the entire crisis experience 
  • Coworking, events, social gatherings, sports, concerts, restaurants, bars, clubs? What happens to our shared physical spaces and places to gather? 
  • Physical in-person events, are they accepted and attended as much as before?
  • Investment capital – there will be a years long downturn and dry spell from traditional VC’s and early angels
  • Traditional business models will fade and new ones will emerge

But also:

  • Many people out of work or feeling lost – needing (desiring) direction and leadership
  • Many of those people who are out of work will be thinking they should start their own company or join a growing business
  • People who start their businesses will need direction, community, leadership, education, mentorship, resources and capital
  • People looking to be inspired and wanting to connect with others who are inspired
  • MANY many new problems are here now,  just waiting to be solved by resourceful teams and people
  • New and more efficient ways to fund and grow early stage startups
  • Many more upside advantages I won’t at this time… but they are out there

As you can see, the world needs Founders Live more than ever and we’ll be here to answer the call in whatever form necessary. The last few years were warm ups, our time is now.

Here’s what we are going to do:

We are (re)creating and rolling out new, awesome, fun, engaging, value-adding, addicting social entrepreneurial experiences online over the next few months. Some are already planned and please check them out when you see them promoted. We are going to do it so that it can reach all corners of the world and inspire millions of people who – at this very moment – are forever changed and wanting another chance in their life. This means our city specific events will be viewed and attended by people from different cities, states or countries, and that’s exactly what we want! We are going to do it swiftly and smoothly since we were already set up as a live and interactive experience, as well as having a presence in almost 30 countries already. We will create a slightly different model for the experience, and shift how we’ll expand to new cities but in the end this will still be the Founders Live brand, core values, and respectfully authentic experience.

Virtual events – already needing improvement

One thing I want to point out you probably have already seen is how (air-quotes) *fun and enjoyable* these virtual events can be. You’ve probably noticed they are all the same – little to no differentiation. “YES, another Zoom call” – no one ever said in 2020.  And how overloaded is your inbox already with invitations to virtual events? Does the world now need another “virtual happy hour” where we stare at 12 boxes with heads in them on the screen? I didn’t think so, especially since we have been staring at a screen most of the day doing our other work!

Just as we did with our in-person events, we are now thinking differently as we embark into the abyss with virtual remote experiences. What I learned as Founders Live initially launched and grew was the best thing to do was identifying the areas of differentiation we were going to attack and make them 10x better than the others out there. And we did it! And that’s why we reached 60+ markets internationally in less than 4 years (and with many more to come in the near future). We cannot just photocopy the traditional Founders Live pitch events into a digital event and call it good. So we are questioning everything and you will see some exciting experimentation and developments right up around the next corner.

Regarding my travels, after being on the road for 15 months straight and traversing more than 64,000 miles I am back up in Washington State close to home awaiting the first sign things start loosening up again in the US. The road still calls and I aim to get back as soon as I can – I want to see you all in person more than anything and hopefully that happens sooner than later. But you know what, I can still social distance in any Airbnb in the world too!

Along with my travels I understand I am at slightly more risk than if I had a house and sheltered in place for the rest of the year, as I also take my distancing to others into consideration. But much more is in my control than I realized – namely quality nutrition, lots of exercise, emotional and psychological health, managing social situations, washing my hands, trying not to touch things and my face, etc.. I also realize I could just as easily get hit as I am riding in a car, one of my flights could go down unexpectedly, I could experience a freak robbery or stabbing, or any other tragic situation. That’s life, and that’s the risk you take by being alive and living around other humans. I have always felt that way and this does not change for me with the recent events of the recent outbreak. 

I really hope we can get things under control in a timely fashion and minimize the damage, both humanly and economically around the world. One thing is for sure, we have already transitioned into a new and different world than most of us were accustomed to just last year. Founders Live just leapt into this new world. The question to you is will you step up and make the decisions in your own life (and if you lead a team, in your organization) to quickly adjust to the new reality? We do have a choice of how to respond to all of this change and your future is still 100% in your own hands.

2 thoughts on “Fixing The Puzzle – How We Will Build Founders Live In The Era of Coronavirus

  1. Nick, that is the most thoughtful and inspirational piece I have read during this crisis. A bit of a sales pitch too, but surrounded with great content in the bigger picture. While millions lost their jobs, it’s the entrepreneurs who are hit the hardest (along with gig workers). As an investor in Fledge with many startups in Africa, we know that story is not even in the headlines yet and it will be disastrous (I had to google how to spell that word because I have never typed it before). Hang in there. I agree that EVERYTHING will be different from now on.

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