The Pandemic’s Silver Lining

By Sophie Phuong Le

The HumanistsMN online book club discussed Post Corona: From Crisis to Opportunity by Scott Galloway in March. The author is a well-known marketing professor at the New York University Stern School of Business as well as a public speaker and entrepreneur.

The year 2020 was a tough one for everyone, but in crisis, there is opportunity, his book demonstrates. As people responded to the pandemic by moving their lives online and working remotely, e-commerce grew as much in eight weeks as it had in the previous decade. The pandemic also boosted an “innovation” narrative, with investors focusing on a firm’s vision of where it could be in a decade.

“It took Apple 42 years to reach $1 trillion in value, and 20 weeks to accelerate from $1 trillion to $2 trillion (March to August 2020). In those same weeks, Tesla became not only the most valuable car company in the world, but more valuable than Toyota, Volkswagen, Daimler, and Honda… combined.”

As Galloway points out, the pandemic was an accelerant, ramping up the use of technology as well as inequality. Indeed, decades can happen in a matter of weeks. Galloway also mentioned the disruption created by the pandemic, forcing classes to be held online, making professors, teachers, and students alike learn how to get used to the new format of teaching and learning together.

Some workers had to work from home and connect with their colleagues via Zoom, WebEx, or Teams, and this created a new reality of work. Some were not as lucky and were let go from work because not all jobs could be converted to work-from-home jobs.

As Galloway wrote, “Sixty percent of jobs that pay over $100,000 can be done from home, compared to only 10% of those that pay under $40,000.” The income gap had widened before the pandemic, and even more so after the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Now job stability is also at stake. We need to protect disenfranchised essential workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic and get them back on their feet.

The book ends with a hopeful but also realistic note, “America’s history is not short on crises or missed opportunities. Its sins and failures are as historic as its virtues and successes. At its best, America exemplifies generosity, grit, innovation, and a willingness to sacrifice for one another and for future generations. When we lose sight of these, we wander into exploitation and crisis.”

My fellow book club participants pointed out that they have modified their routines to support the local economy to ensure that their favorite local businesses stay open. During the pandemic, HumanistsMN found new members throughout the United States as well as from other countries such as Egypt.

A crisis brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, while burdensome, has also been an opportunity to bring people and nations together.

Sophie Phuong Le leads an online humanist book club. The group will next discuss Edge: Turning Adversity into Advantage by Laura Huang on May 22. For more information and to RSVP, see the Meetup announcement.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.