Covid-19 Trust

How to Thrive During the 2020 Global Financial Collapse

By Gary Epler, M.D., Harvard Medical School and Trond A. Undheim, Ph.D., Futurist, Founder of Yegii, Inc

We are in the middle of a global financial collapse. Faced with health and financial disaster, our human instinct is to flee or take shelter. Short of that, we paralyze, at least for a moment. Don’t do that. Grasp this opportunity to thrive by embracing smart risks, being self-aware, and staying well. Crisis can make us all better.

In a crisis, it’s the obsession with averages that kill you. Yet, average death rates or average portfolio losses don’t determine your outcome. During this global health crisis and subsequent financial meltdown, many people will deteriorate into an unhealthy lifestyle and grow disconnected from the community. Why? Because they spend too much time being alone, being angry, and living in unrelenting fear. Regardless whether the cause is justified, thoughts of self-criticism, self-pity, jealously, retaliation, and actively taking away resources from others, will only exacerbate the situation.  

The competition is laying off people, going out of business, and not thinking about innovation. That doesn’t have to be you. I have a friend Brett at workout who sells wine. He was told he could not interact with clients, not good for business when the need for tasting is paramount for a sale. Now is his time to be creative. I told Brett, “Buy a van, slap your logo on the side of the van, and start online home delivery. This will pay for the van and let the company survive while others go out of business.” For others, even more extreme ideas might be needed – you may need to switch businesses or join a startup.

Sequoia Capital wrote to its collaboration ecosystem: “Many of the most iconic companies were forged and shaped during difficult times. We partnered with Cisco shortly after Black Monday in 1987. Google and PayPal soldiered through the aftermath of the dotcom bust. More recently, Airbnb, Square, and Stripe were founded during the Global Financial Crisis. Constraints focus the mind and provide fertile ground for creativity.”

Coronavirus: the black swan of 2020, Sequoia Capital, message to Founders and CEOs

Now is the time to apply our three principles of innovation leadership plus our ten step wellness guide to help you commit to your own personal health, above all.

First, embrace high risk environments. Go ten times farther every time you encounter an obstacle. To succeed or to fail productively, seek out a space you previously considered too complex with too many unknowns, and make a move. You need to learn to make decisions immediately. Base the decision on available information, it must suffice. Change your decision if facts develop that show you to take a different course. If alternate issues arise, reanalyze, reprioritize, and execute to completion. Don’t stop moving as others falter.

Second, learn to be responsible for all your actions which means no blame, no excuses, and no criticism. At work, this means being responsible for everyone below and above the management chain. If people working for you make a massive mistake – it’s your fault because you didn’t train them well enough, didn’t give them clear instruction, or didn’t give them enough resources. If your boss yells at you, don’t blame the boss, it’s your responsibility, you didn’t give the boss enough information or the wrong information because you didn’t clarify what was needed.

Third, have unwavering commitment. This means if you say yes, you do what you say you’re going to do and when you say you’re going to do it, every place, every time. This means you have the desire, resources, and time to perform the task. You must learn the discipline to say no to a friend, family member, boss or a coworker if you don’t want to or not able to complete the request. A poor track record of being late, not completing the task, or not showing up is bad for friends and family, a setback for the organization, and creates an undesirable  reputation.

Finally, learn and sustain good health habits that will enable you to maintain your commitment to thrive during a financial crisis. Prioritize these emerging wellness practices relentlessly.

(1) Maintain close relationships. Having one to three close relationships in your life lets you be yourself without judgment, blame or criticism. You care about each other. You’re kind to each other. You only give, never take anything from the other person. 

(2) Learn to maintain high-level happiness. Sustain an eight to ten out of ten level of happiness every day by learning to be content with your moment to moment situation.

(3) Eight hours of sleep every night. This is needed to restore your brain energy for creative thinking and your dream sleep for empathy and kindness. 

(4) One hour of daily exercise for energy and stress management.

(5) Develop a healthy nutrition lifestyle which means eating the right foods in the right amount at the right time prepared in a healthy manner. 

(6) Alpha-brainwave meditation time every day for improving the immune system, balancing brain regions, reducing stress, and increases creativity. You may achieve such a state of relaxation in many ways, through yoga, playing an instrument, going for a run or a walk, in company or alone. 

(7) Learn self-healing to create an environment for restoration and revitalization from illness and injury.

(8) Minimize negative words and comments while thinking, writing, talking and texting. Too many harmful words at home, at work, and in the community cause stress and bad health outcomes. Neutralize the negative with positive, not by ignoring the negative, but by focusing on it intensely for very brief moments, then shifting to positive thoughts and actions.

 (9) Compassion for yourself and gratitude. During troubling times, no self-destructive thoughts or self-pity thoughts. Use self-compassion. Be kind to yourself. Be grateful for what you have moment by moment. 

(10) Be your true self. Don’t feel you have to listen to anyone and everyone. Don’t compare yourself to anyone. Just be your own, best version of yourself.

Conclusion: Thrive during the 2020 financial chaos by looking for opportunities through embracing risk, being responsible to a fault, and showing unwavering commitment, all whilst prioritizing taking care of your health over all else. Instead of being average, be exceptional by being closer and closer to your true self. Thrive on your uniqueness and find your place fast.      


Dr. Gary Epler is an internationally known lung specialist, a Harvard Medical School professor, and thought leader on health, nutrition, peak performance, and executive health. He received his MPH in epidemiology from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and his MD from Tulane University School of Medicine. His newest book is Alive with Life: A Medical Doctor’s Guide to Live Your Best Life.

Dr. Trond Arne Undheim is a futurist and CEO of Yegii, the technology insight network. A Former Director of MIT Startup Exchange, originally trained as a social scientist, he received his PhD from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. His newest book is Disruption Games: How to Thrive on Serial Failure

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