The other day, I was taking the trash out to the kerb. Usually, I go to the dumpster nearest to me, but it was an especially beautiful spring morning. The sun was out, the birds were singing, and the tree branches were swaying in the breeze with their new green leaves and white flower blossoms. I wanted to be outside a little longer, so I walked a little further and dumped my rubbish in the second bin.
When I got back home, I smiled a bit and laughed at myself. How much life has changed, I said to myself. I’m used to travelling around the world, whether it’s to meet clients, run a race, or just see friends I haven’t seen in a long time. Now, I’m getting excited about walking a few extra steps to the second bin.
Suddenly, all of us are in a different world. A few months ago, we were living similar lives to those we’d been living for years. Now, all of a sudden, we’re working from home, disinfecting our grocery bags, and scrambling to keep our businesses going. If you had told me three months ago that my life today would be like it is, I would have told you that you were crazy. But here we are.
Some people are pessimistic about this new situation. They say business is over; it’s time to lay everyone off and close the doors. Others are more optimistic, saying that we’re going to come out of this stronger and better than ever before. I tend towards the optimistic end of that spectrum – maybe this is in my nature. The reality is probably somewhere in between.
Sure, business has ground to a halt and we’re lucky to be doing any moving at all. But there is an unprecedented number of things freely available to us now. Take the FIDI Academy, for example. It made its online classes free in April and May, so while we were sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring, we and our staff had the chance to bone up on industry knowledge.
When the gears start to turn again, we will all be wondering about the financial health of our business partners – and if they are going to be able to pay us. But we’ve got FASI at our back. The gears of industry need their grease, and FASI’s there to support us and make sure they can turn.
This kind of optimistic, long-term thinking was on the minds of the people who started FIDI 70 years ago. They knew that people like to move around – it’s in their blood; they want to see each other and mix with each other. They knew that this isn’t going to go away. Those of us in this industry today have been in it all our lives. We’re not going away either.
So, when I look at the current challenges laid out before us – both as a company CEO and as FIDI President – I ask myself, what would the founders of FIDI have to say to me? I hear them saying: ‘The big picture is that the spirit that moves people around is strong, and we want to be there to serve it when it comes back.’