David Pisarra

We’re living through a national, nay, a global crisis. We’re all looking for leadership and direction and hope, and for me, if I spend too much time watching the news I get scared and afraid so I’m doing that less and talking to people who can keep me grounded more. To that end, I was on the phone last week with my business coach, (yes I coach people in business AND have a business coach because I see the value in having an outside viewpoint) and he asked me a question, it’s his way of making a point. “Do you know the first thing they teach you in flight school on how to deal with a fire in a plane?”

“Um, put on your oxygen mask?”

“Nope, fly the plane. You have to keep the plane in the air otherwise nothing else matters.”

How does that apply to us as we are sequestered in our homes? Our businesses are being dramatically impacted, and for some, soon to be shuttered? Well this is a moment in time that will be remembered as a pivot point in business and society.

As Americans we are encouraged to be entrepreneurs. I’ve been an entrepreneur my whole life really, and while I have to keep the lights on, and food on the table, for me the idea is to keep the plane flying, and part of that is to prep for when this is over, and it will be over. There will come a day when life returns to a semblance of normal, it will be different, and we will be different, but it will return. Which is why you should take the time now, to prepare for the end of this current crisis.

When this ends, you may or may not have a business to return to, you may or may not have a job to return to, but if you use this next two weeks (and mark my words, I’m betting it’ll be more like six to eight weeks) you can be better prepared for starting a new business, or getting a new job with new skills learned over the next few weeks.

We will need everyone, to restart our economy. We will need entrepreneurs in unprecedented numbers to jumpstart the flow of money again. One of my favorite quotes is from the musical Hello Dolly! In it Dolly Levi tells Horace Vandergelder, “Money, pardon the expression, is like manure. It’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around, encouraging young things to grow.” Which is as true today as always, and is about to be even more necessary.

The velocity of money is what will bring us back to a sense of normalcy. It’s when you spend $50 in a local barbershop and they in turn spend $25 at the local shoe repair and $25 at the local diner. And then those two businesses buy dinner and pay for their car repairs, and then they hire a carpenter, and a plumber. It’s the flow of money, the circulation of currency that allows everyone to prosper and recover, that we will need.

I’m preparing for the new reality that will be our life in 3-6 months, and I suggest you do the same. For years, I’ve taken courses through online platforms because I’m a lifelong learner. I read about a dozen to two dozen books a year, and I’ve taken online courses for photography, videography, storytelling, computer programs and of course loads of legal courses to stay up to date on the latest trends in Family Law to handle the needs of my divorce and child custody cases.

I’m studying up on bankruptcy law for my business clients and I expect a slew of individual bankruptcy filings in the next quarter as people are having a hard time recovering financially.

To help you prepare for the new reality I’ve created a list of places and opportunities you have to upskill yourself, and to prepare for the end of this global crisis. Obviously there’s YouTube.com for every type of skill possible – use it for more than cat videos. You can master Excel, Access, Photography, Restaurant Management and Sales with programs on YouTube for free. There is an endless array of other skills available as well, from tailoring to butchering animals. You have no excuse to not expand your knowledge base in way that can make you self-supporting.

I have used Udemy.com which has many great courses available for generally a $9.99 fee. Yale has a course on happiness that is their most popular online course ever on the Coursera.com platform, and those courses are either free on an audit basis, or relatively low cost if you want to have a Certificate of Completion.

You can “attend” classes from all over the world with FutureLearn.com. These are academic programs from many of the major universities who are putting them online in MOOC (massive online open course) to expand the global capacity and reach of education. There are classes from Yale, Harvard, MIT, Wharton, University of Manchester and hundreds of others available.

The website OpenCulture.com is a tremendous clearinghouse for a wide variety of the resources available online, from classic movies to language courses to children’s books and 1,000’s of MOOCs.

I want to encourage everyone to use this downtime to learn a new skill, improve upon their basic computer knowledge, develop a marketing and business plan for your ‘side hustle’, do something positive and creative with this unique period in human history. Don’t just give in to the fear and sit on the couch watching reruns of Big Brother.

Today our job is to stay home and let this infection rate drop. Tomorrow our job will be to rebuild our economy, and we’ll need you ready and in fighting shape to do so.

David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist.  He welcomes your questions and comments.  He can be reached at dpisarra@pisarra.com or 310/664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra