Updated: Jun 27, 2021
Some guy by the name of Mark Twain once said, "History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes". This is one of my favorite quotes out there, especially with how it relates to what we are experiencing today. While 2020 certainly had its never-before-seen type features from Covid-19, if we look a little deeper into our history as human beings, what we saw was not entirely an original feature film, but rather a sequel of sorts.
As many of us know, the 1918 flu Pandemic occurred a little over a century ago. It unfortunately took the lives of 20-50 million people, and coincided with the end of World War I, which padded on another 20-40 million casualties. America was knocked down, looking like Rocky Balboa after he went the distance against Apollo Creed in Rocky I, only to discover he came up short after a heartbreaking (and controversial) loss in a split decision.
But what happened following these devastating and dark times in our history? We got back up. We innovated, endured, and inspired. The medical community in the US established a medical reporting system, there was a new found focus on epidemiology, and an international bureau- which we now know today as the World Health Organization – was established. The roaring 20's ensued. We saw all time highs in economic activity and in the stock market from pent up demand and increased spending from consumers. We saw scientific advancements and widespread adoptions of technologies like the automobile and electricity. And maybe most importantly, my baseball god Babe Ruth and the Murderers Row of Yankees teams in the 1920's were hitting dingers and winning World Series titles left and right.
Does any of this sound familiar? Medical advancement? Economic growth? Pent up consumer spending? Increased adoption of revolutionary technology? The Yankees having a massive slugger in the outfield accompanied by a wrecking crew of baseball All-Stars looking to bring the World Series trophy back to the Bronx? History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes. The Covid-19 pandemic will forever be etched in our history with significant scars and hardships. However, the innovation that is set to transpire in reaction to the pandemic may be some of the most transcendent and inspiring we have ever seen. In just 9 months, the medical community was able to produce a life-saving vaccine for a never-before seen virus. We learned how to automate processes, and leverage our digital infrastructure in ways we never had before. We are seeing new electric vehicles and renewable energy innovations being introduced and advanced every single day. (With an Infrastructure Bill on the way looking to further expedite these advancements.) Although many Americans faced hardships of losing their jobs, thankfully #Stimmy deposits were thrown in bank accounts and mailboxes all across the country to help alleviate some of the burden of financial stresses. As a matter of fact, this action from Washington allowed for some Americans to improve their financial condition from before the pandemic. Take a look at this chart below from WalletHub.com
The chart shows that Americans in total last year IMPROVED their credit card debt dramatically, with a total decline of consumer debt to the tune of almost $83 billion.
In the first quarter of this year, there were more small businesses launched than any other quarter in US history. I believe there are a number of factors as to why this could be. For one, when rapid change occurs in the day to day life of every human being on the planet, there are new opportunities that present themselves. Change=Opportunity. Think of your own life- how many new businesses, apps, or experiences have you engaged with since the pandemic started? It may be as simple as using a new food delivery app, reading a new blog, or downloading a new software for work. We are seeing a rise of entrepreneurship and innovation unlike anything we have seen before.
Another reason for this rapid expansion in entrepreneurship stems from the growth in opportunity that exists at our fingertips. The barrier to entry for so many business models is significantly lower than ever before thanks to the internet. There is more education and resources available than ever to get you started, chase your passion, or find your side hustle. The power of the digital marketplace is just beginning to show its true potential, and the pandemic has done nothing but accelerate the adoption of our digital transformation.
History has shown us that deprivation is often the catalyst for innovation. It has shown us that when we get knocked down, we get back up. Whether it be a global pandemic, a war, an economic depression, a right hook from Apollo Creed, or playoff eliminations from cheating Houston Astros teams, there is always a second act. Revolutionary medical products are created and we gain better understanding of how to prepare for deadly diseases. Technology allows for advancements in our economic system. Entrepreneurship and innovation leads the way into a new world of exciting opportunity and growth. Rocky knocks out Apollo Creed in Rocky II. The Yankees win their 28th world series championship on the back of Aaron Judge in a triumphant return to baseball glory. (Let me speak that last one into existence, okay?) I believe that we are currently standing on the corner of a generational shift in opportunity and advancement. We have seen dark times that have provided us an enlightened path forward, to where I believe there is an economic boom coming* quite unlike anything we've seen before. History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes. And I like the sound of the song we're singing.
*Rest in Peace to music artist, DMX. His impact in the world of Hip-Hop music will always be significantly impactful, and it is truly tragic to see his life cut short. I admire those who find their passion in life and create something meaningful for not only themselves, but others. DMX had that ability, and I express my deepest sincerities to him, his fans, and his family. "Here comes the boom," was a recognizable line from DMX song, "Top Shotter."