Navigating the Perpetual Job Market —

A Life-Long Journey

Dear reader, since the Fall 2022 Hap Klopp and I have been conducting a Master Class Series on topics which are not readily taught in traditional business school programs. Each Master Class (MC) has a companion paper distributed to the MC participants. These papers are now published here making them available to my blogpost readers and also available at our 3 Amigos website.

Navigating the lifelong journey of the ever-changing job market can and will be a daunting task for many individuals.  The job market will be in constant flux with new technologies, industries and trends emerging at a rapidly accelerating pace.  This will result in individuals holding numerous jobs over their lifetimes requiring widely divergent knowledge, skills, and training.  Choosing the right career path, as highlighted in the chart below, has always required the delicate balancing act between the individual’s aspirations and objectives with the existing job market. The new, accelerated environment job seekers face dramatically increases the number of times that the balance will have to be addressed and exponentially increases the decision-making matrix over a job seeker’s career.  The resulting immense challenges for an individual will require re-skilling, up-skilling, and the continuous augmentation of one’s education via certificates, seminars, and specialized degrees. This sort of evolution isn’t totally new, but the speed and magnitude of the change is exponentially faster than what society has experienced before.  

The delicate balance between the skills, aspirations, and career goals of an individual with the job market opportunities will be broken often, at an accelerated pace.

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning is young.” — Henry Ford.

The good news for job seekers is this ever-changing landscape is equally challenging for Firms providing a myriad of opportunities for the well-prepared job seeker.  Companies are already asking themselves how to find human capital that is day-one-job-ready requiring less and less “on-the-job” training.   Furthermore, enterprises, large and small, need to constantly upgrade their technology base to meet the rapidly evolving market needs, to increase the caliber of their teams to maintain or better enhance their competitive posture.  

While many moving parts of the enterprise are changing, there remains the culture of the firm which needs to be kept. The forces affecting organizations may result in a fertile environment for future opportunities, are listed below:

  • Proliferation of startups: a global phenomenon and its high mortality rate,
  • AI, robotics, digital transformation, and many other technologies which replace and upgrade predictable and routine tasks,
  • Decrease of the average tenure of the employees in the firm,
  • The need to change the human capital/knowledge pool due to new technologies emerging and a an increased pace,
  • Performance and competitive pressures,
  • Access to global talent increasing job competition,
  • Increased need for agility to meet new market demands,
  • The talent mismatch (inside the firm) and the talent shortage (outside the firm)
  • New emergence of a new work environment: remote, diversity, equity, environmentally sustainable 

Some of the specifics below clearly point to future opportunities for business. One doesn’t have to be a great futurist to realize the wide-ranging impact this is having on society and extrapolate it to what this will mean in the way of the future of jobs and business opportunities.

What has changed at the macro level:

  • The expected lifespan of companies is dropping significantly (i.e., S&P companies have dropped from 67 years to 15 years over the last 80 years)
  • Global population Is significantly increasing exceeding 10B people by mid-century (i.e., today 8B, 2030’s 9B, 2050’s 10B)
  • Technological advances, including the digital transformation of society, is accelerating the obsolescence of products, services, and companies. 
  • A new generation of “digital native” employees is entering the job market.  
  • More abrupt and faster market changes, due to “black swan” events, is occurring (i.e. climate change, water pollution, pandemic, wars, and financial crises)  
  • Globalization and democratization of markets is leading to significantly Increased competition.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) is impacting society and businesses in multiple ways eliminating many jobs, modifying the rest and creating new careers and opportunities which we were not even aware that existed.

These macro changes have led to new work paradigms summarized in the chart below:

The work paradigm has been shifting to a new model and the pandemic has enabled and accelerated the transition.

“You need to think and act like you are running a start-up: YOUR CAREER” Reid Hoffman

What has changed at the specific personal level:

  • Consumption aspirations of the emerging global middle class are creating new demands on markets and governments,
  • We are shifting from a product-based economy to a service economy => knowledge economy
  • There is an increasing educational demand for skills, not just knowledge.
  • Demographic shifts, including the “inverted population pyramid” dilemma, where less and less younger generations need to support an increased number of older people, are being faced by almost all advanced economies.  
  • Nontraditional careers are increasingly diverse and prevalent and more and more project-based freelance and independent work is on the rise,
  • Individuals may maintain several jobs simultaneously (i.e., a portfolio of professional activities) working simultaneously for multiple firms,
  • The increasing life expectancy (i.e. 2 to 4 years with every passing decade) => leading to a natural postponement of the retirement age and increasing the number of working years of the individual

These impacts at the personal level have led to new career paradigms summarized in the chart below.

The personal outlook of an individual’s career is shifting to a more pro-active and self-reliant paradigm

Cultivating a growth mindset is a key strategy for navigating the job future market. This means adopting a mindset that embraces learning and personal development as a lifelong journey.  It requires individuals to be open to new ideas, experiences, and opportunities and to continuously seek out ways to improve their skills and knowledge.

Staying informed about the latest trends and changes in the job market is essential.  This can involve keeping up with industry/trade publications, attending professional conferences and events and networking with colleagues and industry experts.   Informed individuals can better identify emerging opportunities and make better informed decisions about their career paths.  

To maximize one’s effectiveness it is important for individuals to be adaptable and flexible in their approach to their careers.  This may involve being willing to take on new challenges (sometimes at lower wages), pivoting to new industries or roles, and developing skills in new areas that are suddenly in high demand.  Being adaptable and flexible also means being able to embrace change and uncertainty, and to navigate challenges with resilience and creativity. 

Suffice it to say, this environment can be off putting to many individuals and the confusion it presents can lead to counterproductive paralysis.   Those who wish to maximize their success in this environment will have to rely upon important internal traits—remaining true and consistent to their core values, trusting their gut instincts, and leveraging their E.Q.  

Developing a strong Personal Brand is a key strategy for navigating the job market.  This means developing a clear and compelling narrative about your skills, experience and expertise that sets you apart from other candidates.  It involves creating a strong online presence through social media and professional networking sites as well as building a portfolio of work that showcases your skills and achievements.  Keys to doing this include:

  • Keeping your brand current,
  • Making sure your skills are competitive,
  • Building and managing your personal reputation,
    • Spending time on enhancing your community standing.

For more on Personal Branding, we refer you to our Master Class #1: “Personal Branding: The Key for Lasting Success.”  

“Those who develop the ability to continuously acquire new and better forms of knowledge that they can apply to their work and to their lives will be the movers and shakers in our society for the indefinite future.” Brian Tracy

Networking is also an essential strategy for navigating the job market.  This involves building relationships with industry experts, influential contacts, mentors, and colleagues who can offer advice, support, and opportunities.  Networking can take many forms, from attending industry or networking events and conferences to joining professional organizations and online communities.  The key to utilizing networking most effectively for success in the ever-changing business world is to focus networking efforts on the opportunities in front of you.

  • Identify emerging new and/or adjacent sectors of business,
  • Identify hot companies well positioned for the future and some of their key executives,
  • Identify geographies of opportunity—both domestic and international,
    • Look for areas and job titles most rewarded from the compensation and career growth potential.

Depending on the construct of your network, the impact on your future is going to vary dramatically, a shown in the chart below:

For more on this Networking, we refer you to our Master Class #3: Networking:  It’s who you know, not just want you know.”

It is essential for individuals to take a proactive approach to their career development and positively and proactively deal with the ever-changing business landscape.  This includes, but is not limited to, setting clear objectives, and developing a plan to achieve them.  It will often involve additional education or training and in the future will include the acquisition of both certifications and additional degrees.  Likewise, it will require taking on new roles and/or responsibilities within the various organizations one might get involved in.      

Tips for those who want to get the best jobs at every step of the professional journey.

First and foremost, you need to follow best practices for perpetual career preparation, such as:

  1. Career growth mindset to foster constant learning,
  2. Engage in continuous self-directed learning,
  3. Continuously develop and enhance “soft skills.”
  4. Develop and enhance your personal brand,
  5. Engage and connect with learning communities to exchange knowledge and build social capital,
  6. Document and reflect on your experiences, for constant improvement,
  7. Curate and document evidence of new and demonstrable knowledge and skills,
  8. Showcase and market personal brand.

Second, it is hard to make it alone: establish close bonds with a core team which will include colleagues, mentors, advisors, etc. Your team will amplify your abilities in multiple ways:

  1. Represents extra pairs of eyes and ears on market movements and pivots,
  2. Helps you evaluate your own skill set vs. emerging market demands,
  3. Facilitates relationships and networking,
  4. Can share timely tips and informational sources,
  5. Keeps tabs on the pulse of the job market.

Of particular interest are colleagues in prior jobs who know you well. They may have moved on to other companies/industries/geographies, and their experience is of particular interest because they know you better than most and can provide an excellent perspective as well as a source of introductions.

Finally, keep your recruitment support materials current (see Appendix) as you will never know when you need them.

a. Keep separate facts from aspirations,

b. Create a portfolio of work products, including videos, multi-media productions, and social media presence.

Navigating the lifelong journey of the ever-changing job market requires a combination of skills, strategies, and attitudes.  By cultivating a growth mindset, staying informed about the latest trends and changes, being adaptable and flexible, developing a strong personal brand, networking, and taking a proactive approach to career development, individuals can stay relevant and successful throughout their entire career.


The labor market will continue evolving at an accelerated pace. We will observe in front of our eyes how many fulfilling and well compensated professions disappear, while others emerge in timid ways. While there is no certainty of which of those new emerging careers will lead to growth fields, certainly some will become well compensated opportunities. The good news is that historically every disruption created far more opportunities than jobs it destroyed in the prior technological incarnation. While these transitions are uncertain and intimidating, embracing them by far outweighs the certain professional death of a dying technology and/or a well-paying job in an obsolete firm becoming irrelevant.

From the firm’s perspective, to thrive, they must constantly reexamine their talent pool of current and future workers. Retaining current workers, where possible, is essential not only due to high replacement costs. The firm must measure the performance of these workers using the outcomes based on their skills, interests, and potential, not just their past credentials and job history.  And, it must also be based on acquiring adjacent skills, not just the current skills. This will give workers opportunities to grow in new areas (adjacent or otherwise), building on the skills they already have.  This approach will be extremely beneficial for them and for the employer. To maximize effectiveness, current workers will need to be augmented by new recruited workers who will bring new perspectives, knowledge, and skills unavailable in the current workforce. The constant balancing act of the firm’s human capital will enable to retain the firm identity and culture while maintaining the competitive edge and keep their products and services fresh while protecting the flanks of organization’s emerging markets which will need to be ‘served with new technologies.

Every job seeker’s goal in the future will require positioning oneself as the right candidate in the right place, at the right time, with the perceived right skills and knowledge ready for the next step in your professional journey.  The key is to make that person YOU.   

Until our paths cross again — Carlos B.

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Higher Education Enterprise Faces Multiple Challenges in the Post COVID-19 Era

The race to meet the current and future demands of the new digital learners

The global pandemic has thrown education and educators into the ‘deep end’ in a ‘sink or swim’ dilemma. Capturing successfully the multiple opportunities uncovered by the two year-long pandemic requires the timely transforming of Higher Ed Enterprise along all its participants, including the organizational culture. Higher Ed Enterprises are notoriously slow to adapt to disruptive changes such as those enabled by the pandemic, creating vast market opportunities for new entrants across the entire value chain. Digital transformation technologies have empowered a new type of consumer that demands new products and services delivered in entirely new ways making the incumbents vulnerable to the threat of new entrants, while transforming the Higher Ed Ecosystem to a ‘Digital Enterprise’.

We (Hap Klopp, Paul Campbell, and I – a.k.a. The 3amgos) during the last two years have been leading a research team on Excellence in Virtual and Hybrid Education (EVE) with a handful of undergraduate and graduate students. Our investigation provided an opportunity to reflect and reframe our learning-by-doing as we transformed our in-classroom classes for the new virtual and later hybrid environments.

As practitioners of Digital Transformation, we are seizing this opportunity to facilitate the shift to virtual and hybrid education by creating a unique integrated digital pedagogy. Our center focus has been aimed at solving the 4 (four) major challenges faced by digital learners:

Our EVE effort eventually led us to ‘rise above the gathering storm’ of the on-going disruption affecting Higher Ed institutions and learners. Our efforts led us to see beyond the headlights five key disruptive challenges demanding answers to thrive in the new post-COVID-19- normal:

We invite you to follow our on-going research in these digital venues:





You can also contact us through our LinkedIn account of the 3amigos team member or directly to me at

Until our paths cross again amigo — Carlos B.

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My Christmas Message

ENGLISH VERSION (ver abajo version en Espanol)

Dear Friends, we have certainly experienced contrasting emotions for most of 2020 and 2021. Our lives have been disrupted “uninstalling” many of our “installed” habits. It seems impossible that 2022 could be like the prior two…. Hopefully not! Although many indicators do not seem promising.

I would assert that we rarely ask ourselves why? Why do we have to experience this pandemic here and now? Perhaps, for most of our formidable scientific progress, technological advances and “modernism” that got “installed” in our lives, we needed a pandemic to slow us down, reach into our souls and discern the signs of the times … It is not that we have lost our compass, but at times seems, each one has its personal compass pointing to a different North!  It is my hope we can agree on a set of organizing principles enabling us to join efforts to conquer something bigger than ourselves for the health of our planet and the generations to come.

My Christmas wish is to restore character to our competence, truth in our voices and remove frivolity and “busy” activities, to regain time for what is important.

My New Year’s resolution is for many shared moments, fabulous enriching experiences learning new things and challenging each other to conquer new and old obstacles 2022 will present.

Now receive my best holidays wishes, and until we meet again in person… Zoom will have to do amigo! — Carlos B.


Querido Amigos/Amigas, ciertas emociones que hemos experimentado durante el 2020 y el 2021 han sido el resultado del miedo, la angustia, la bronca, la incertidumbre que exaltan nuestras miserias. Parece imposible que el 2022 se le pueda parecer a los dos anteriores…. ¡Ojalá que NO! ¡Pero a días del Año Nuevo las expectativas no son muy halagüeñas!

¿Lo que pocas veces nos hemos pregunta: es por qué? ¿Porque esta pandemia nos toca vivirla aquí y ahora?  Quizás tantos avances científicos, tecnológicos y el “modernismo” que nos tenían cautivos y nos olvidamos mirar al cielo y discernir los signos de los tiempos… Un abrazo cariñoso y mis deseos que el Niño de Belen nos devuelva la esperanza y la alegría de un Nuevo Cielo y una Nueva Tierra en el Nuevo Año que se avecina – Carlos B.

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Open Letter to Mr. Elon Musk

Tiburon, California (USA), November 1st, 2021

Dear Elon,

Let me preface my remarks by explaining that I am an experienced technology executive. I was Corporate VP for Motorola’s Latin American operations, was involved in two successful startups (one that IPO’d), and I now am a partner at two venture capital funds. I understand how hard it is to build a smooth–running business but also how critical stellar customer service is to create a successful business.

I am disappointed with the outcome of the solar roofing project I have undertaken with Tesla (I also drive a Tesla Model S). When I embarked on the project to replace my roof, I recognized that a new solar roof would be a very important undertaking because it would first provide me with shelter, and second allow me to generate my own, clean energy.

Since I placed an initial commitment with Tesla over 15 months ago (07/29/2020), my project advisors changed constantly: William was followed by Michelle, then Matt, followed by several others, and now Whitney, my present advisor. The project evolved slowly over the initial months, and several project advisors later, we settled on a suitable design that met my needs. The design we agreed upon would provide new solar roofs to two structures––my main house and the detached garage––and would include 4 Powerwalls. I picked this configuration because it was the one that would allow me to meet my future household needs since I eventually intend to replace all appliances and cars with electric ones.

The Tesla Solar Roof is an aesthetically pleasing alternative to conventional solar panels only if it performs as advertised

Over the ensuing months, I felt that Tesla ignored me and, as a result, I consigned the project to the back of my mind, believing it would never materialize because I had very little visibility into its progress. That lack of visibility was largely because I was forced to interface with Tesla via its incredibly user–unfriendly website and very long telephone holds. Furthermore, a sudden price increase put the selected configuration close to $150K, which was out of my price range. By this point, the total cost of the project had grown by almost 10x from the initial price quote of $16K given to me by William, my first Tesla Project Advisor (PA), back in July 2020.

By the end of this summer or early fall (2021), I received several calls within several days from different people at Tesla who had seemed to have developed a sudden interest in my account. One caller promised that it would be worth my while if I spoke with the new Tesla PA that been assigned to my account. This was when Whitney came into the picture as my current PA. At this time, I learned that I was given some kind of discount, enabling me to complete the project at my price target of $100K. Whitney was helpful in enabling me to reach that goal. Unfortunately, she failed to review exactly what the project entailed. When I saw that the system included 4 Powerwalls, I assumed that we were talking about the same design that we agreed to about 5 months prior (with a Tesla Roof on the two different structures).  Unfortunately, the Tesla website does not appear to allow customers to access their project histories (or at least I do not know how to do this).

Late September/early October, different Tesla personnel visited my house, climbed on top of my roof, and inspected the installation site. Chris, the installation coordinator, was one of the last to visit and called my attention to the fact that the detached garage was no longer included in the project plan. Given the disorganization I experienced firsthand, I responded with confidence that he must have an old copy of the plans, since the 4 Powerwall system design was the one I had selected and that included installations on both the main house and the detached garage.

Then the rain arrived, and the project start date was further postponed from October 18 to November 1. To my dismay, I noticed multiple leaks that I reported immediately, which I attributed on the number of Tesla personnel who had climbed and walked on my old roof.

Tesla’s response to my cry for help was to dismiss any sort of accountability for any rain leaks. Unfortunately, the ensuing deluge of last Sunday (10/24) significantly increased the intensity of these leaks. Furthermore, the leaks then damaged my television and the surround sound system mounted on my chimney (since a significant number of leaks were around my chimney). Furthermore, I was also informed that the project cost had increased by $26K, since, unbeknownst to me, the detached garage structure was removed from the project. Given imminent further rains this season, I was forced to find a roofer to immediately make temporary fixes to my old roof to prevent further leaks and damage.

By now I hope you understand the reasons for my taking steps toward cancelling project. I did not arrive at this point lightly, because, as an electrical engineer myself, I wanted a Tesla roof and all the benefits it is purported to yield. However, I do not believe you treated me as a valued customer, nor I have sensed any passion from your company to meet my expectations, let alone exceed them. On the contrary, your delays, constant changing of names and voices, poorly trained project advisors, fluctuating prices, et al have been constant sources of disappointment for my family and me. My prevailing concern is how Tesla will treat me post–installation regarding any roofing or energy problems, given that you are the only ones able to repair or fix any problems emanating from your installation, because you will be, as the American aphorism goes, ‘the only game in town’!

In closing, I would like you to answer this simple question: What from this initial 15 months of upsetting courtship, so fraught with errors and mismanagement, do you think merits us entering into a 25+ year relationship commitment (your warranty period)?

Carlos S. Baradello, PhD

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The Post-COVID Education Disruption

Please include @baradello if you share this note

Change vectors were seeking an “excuse” to disrupt the Education Sector, and…COVID-19 provided the perfect one!

“We have to go from what is essentially an industrial model of education, a manufacturing model, which is based on linearity and conformity and batching people. We have to move to a model that is based more on principles of agriculture. We have to recognize that human flourishing is not a mechanical process; it’s an organic process. And you cannot predict the outcome of human development. All you can do, like a farmer, is create the conditions under which they will begin to flourish.” Sir Ken Robinson

It is never an easy task to predict the new reality post-COVID-19 early last March, just 7 months ago, projecting and forecasting the broad and deep consequences of the global pandemic. The months of lockdown and “low touch” economy has forced us to question some deeply held assumptions and shaken organizations and institutions built on those assumptions. It has tested the ability of different enterprises to adapt: some quickly embraced changes to change again and again until get it right, while others, affected by the well-known disease of “re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic,” are still waiting for the old reality to return. COVID-19 will continue challenging all businesses and organizations for the rest of 2020 and for most of 2021 and shift consumer behavior temporarily or permanently across all human activities. The question that remains is the intensity of these shifts and what percent of these shifts are temporary and what percent will remain permanently.

In prior blogs I have identified some of the oldest industries/economic sectors known to mankind that have remained untouched by disruptive forces. These institutions have been remarkable stable over decades and centuries, and this stability has bred overconfidence, overpricing and overreliance on business models tailored to a physical world. Some of the most important include:

  1. Health care,
  2. Education,
  3. Legal,
  4. Government, and
  5. Organized religion.

While my identification of the areas which avoided disruption so far remains correct, there are important transversal areas left out from my prior discussions. Among the most important (and subject of future blog posts) are included:

  • Where, who and how the workforce operates and it is organized,
  • Work vs. the perceived value of work and its actual compensation,
  • Socialization as a basic human need: low touch vs. high touch, and
  • Where we live and the public services we receive.

The transformation that each industrial or economic sector will undertake as a response to COVID-19 is different since each one has its own dynamics, stakeholders, technology, and economic forces resulting from the pandemic’s impact. Therefore, while there are generic cross-sector responses, for the most part each is unique in different ways.

Learning alone vs. the socialization needs of the learners

In this blog, I would like to address the long-anticipated disruption affecting the education sector, especially as it relates to higher and tertiary education. COVID-19 has permanently impacted the education sector. Why? Because of the following factors:

  1. Shift in Societal preference abandoning old paradigms:
    • American middle-class families (and in many other world regions) are unable to fund their children’s traditional 4-year liberal arts college education,
    • Student debt is surpassing all the established benchmarks of national indebtedness, and
    • Education providing skills enabling to earn a living wage is favored over human enlightenment by a growing market segment.
  2. Consumer needs/affordability envelope has changed:
    • A model of just-in-time skill acquisition to support the livelihood of the learners is emerging, and
    • Shorter degrees are favoured learning highly targeted employable skills, meeting the immediate requirements of employers[1],
    • The socialization needs of the learners will be met by identifying new alternatives to the expensive/exclusive “campus experience” embraced by old paradigms.
  3. Learning preferences of the learners have evolved around three modalities to complement and/or replace in classroom learning:
    • Virtual/synchronous: enabling diverse global cohorts and global faculty, and
    • Virtual/asynchronous: enabling global faculty and students to produce and consume educational content anytime/anywhere.
    • Variety of hybrid and blended models combining these three primary modalities: in-classroom, virtual/synchronous, and virtual/asynchronous.
  4. Technologies and methodologies have evolved and will continue evolving to support a better virtual education experiences:
    • Technology will continue improving (faster, cheaper, smaller, with an ever increased functionality) to make the experience better, completer, and more affordable, and
    • New virtual teaching methodologies will emerge to increase the learning outcomes and student satisfaction,
    • Integrated environments for class creation and delivery of multi-mode highly engaging classes.
  5. Higher and tertiary education players and services offered will evolve:
    • New entrants (the disruptors) will enter, while some “old” players (the defeated) will exit the field[2] (Schumpeterian creative disruption),
    • New services will emerge connecting education/skills acquisition to other new complementary support services facilitating employment (e.g., knowledge/skills certification, degrees and certificates authenticity, keeping updated in disciplines and certificates, etc.),
    • New roadmap services to enable customization and personalization of on-demand educational services to meet degree and evolving employability requirements,
    • Stronger connection between newly acquired skills and employment opportunities market.
  6. The firms, who are the beneficiaries of the higher education products, will participate by exploring closer partnerships in the delivery of these new skills by:
    • Identification of emerging skills and future knowledge requirements of the learners, to receive trained human capital meeting the immediate skill requirements of the enterprise,
    • Apprenticeships to complement the skill acquisition provided by educational institutions with hands-on experiential learning and possibly follow-on employment opportunities, and
    • New partnerships mixing and matching virtual education with experiential learning, including joint degrees and skill certifications.
Where are the students? and the instructors?

As we emerge victorious from the ongoing pandemic, some physical classrooms will fill-up again, but virtual education will remain installed in both fashions (synchronous and asynchronous). While the classroom components require all students to be co-located, the virtual-synchronous components would enable educators and students alike to overcome the co-location limitation, enabling diverse global cohorts and faculty, while virtual-asynchronous will enable teaching and learning to occur anytime/anywhere.

Amid any disruption in Machiavellian terms, the incumbents are often the “naysayers” representing the most visible and loudest majority, because they know exactly how much is at stake and potentially lose. With respect to the education industry, this transformation will be painful as a significant number of the colleges and universities (mostly concentrated in the bottom tier) will be unable to re-invent themselves as their attempts will be likely in the general category of too-little-too-late due to severe deficit of imagination and funding to re-invent their business.

Complicating matters further, leading Ivy League and Oxbridge-tier colleges and universities will watch the disruption from afar, instead of leading this transformation. These academic institutions have no urgency or immediate benefit to be gained from leading this parade, since their brands and endowments will sustain them for decades to come.

I fully expect these institutions’ tenured faculty members to become the loudest proponents of the status-quo, since “they have done well under the prior order”… and “partly because of their incredulity, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.” Niccolò Machiavelli anticipated this behavior well over 500 years ago!

The goal of education under any paradigm (old or new) is : “The whole purpose of higher education is to help individuals find their talents and develop those talents so they can use them to the service of society. And if there is anybody we are leaving out of that equation, it is not just bad for them, it is also bad for society.”[3]

This ongoing disruption will cause a democratization of educational services, causing a paradigm shift moving the arc of power from the teachers first, and the institutions of higher education later, to the actual learners.

The end goal post-disruption is to create a system that is much more open, inclusive, and available enabling everyone, in particular those that previously have been excluded to participate. Even at the expense of the old business model. The changes in store for higher education are going to look a lot like the painful changes we have seen in every disrupted industry of the last decades, such as telecommunications, retail, financial services, news, media and entertainment services, etc.[4] … Why should higher education be any different?

Shortly after the pandemic forced us to move our classroom to virtual space (March 2020), my teaching partners[5} and I, decided to launch the EVE (Excellence in Virtual Education) Project, with the goal of making virtual teaching at par or better educational experience than in-class, on-campus teaching, in term of its educational value. You can learn more about the EVE Project by visiting The Three Amigos website.

Until our paths cross again amigo – Carlos B.

[1] The social contract between employers and employees has evolved over the last two decades from long term to
consensual short duration engagements.

[2] Residential colleges may experience a decline similar to live theaters after the advent of movies and broadcast television or the on going extinction of movie theaters today

[3] Higher Education Was Already Ripe for Disruption. Then, COVID-19 Happened by Scott Barsotti, September 14, 2020

[4] Are Universities Going the Way of CDs and Cable TV? Like the entertainment industry, colleges will need to embrace digital services in order to survive. Michael D. Smith, June 22, 2020

[5] Hap Klopp, Paul Campbell, and I (Carlos Baradello), a.k.a. the Three Amigos, presently co-teach at Hult International Business School in San Francisco, California. They have been co-teaching together in the areas of Global Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Intrapreneurship, Disruptive Innovations, New Product Development, and others for more than 7 years at both the graduate and undergraduate levels at various global universities.

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65% of students dislike virtual learning environments necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For immediate release, August 3rd, 2020

This is a copy of the press released today of the research work conducted with my teaching partners Hap Klapp and Paul Campbell under our brand the 3 Amigos.

A survey released in June to university students across North America, South America and Europe executed in 6 languages (English, Spanish, German, French, Portuguese and Italian) surfaced a number of critical insights concerning global virtual teaching and the recent transition away from campus classrooms.

The survey is part of the “Excellence in Virtual Education” (EVE) project undertaken by the Three Amigos­[1], three professors at several major universities, and four of their students[2]. The goal of the EVE project is to develop a virtual educational experience that is better than that found in classrooms on campus. A critical initial step was to “learn from the learners”—assessing student satisfaction with virtual classroom environments and, more importantly, performance and engagement levels compared with those in physical classrooms.

An astounding 1,000 global students from 89 universities from around the world expressed their thoughts regarding the past, present and future of virtual education. “We were overwhelmed with the enthusiasm and passion that students expressed in their responses,” said Hap Klopp, a Professor at Hult International Business School and founder and long-time CEO of The North Face.

The challenges of the new virtual medium and the rapidity of the changeover forced by the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a mere 35 percent of respondents saying they ‘liked’ the shift to virtual teaching, leaving a vast majority who did not like this transition.  Many complained that they had problems staying engaged and that classes were too long for a virtual environment. Others mentioned that new tools and platforms were needed to improve virtual education.  The student respondents also expressed their belief that virtual teaching is significantly different from in-class learning, and, therefore, traditional classroom lectures often do not effectively transfer to virtual environments.

The survey showed that, after the conversion to a virtual educational environment, out of the students who experienced a change:

  • 79% reported lower overall performance and outcomes, and
  • 59% reported lower test results.

When asked about what could be improved in virtual teaching, respondents made two strong suggestions that instructors everywhere should hear:

  1. More interactions:
    • 75% wanted more personal interaction with professors and fellow students. Respondents pointed out that it was very important to learn by sharing ideas, knowledge, opinions, points of view, and experiences. In their experience, virtual education does not measure up to physical classroom education, so far.
  2. More class projects
    • 65% said that in-class projects, especially group projects, were very valuable in virtual classes to recapture some of the vitality and socialization of the physical classroom.

The EVE survey was constructed as a combination of multiple choice and open-ended questions.  Based on insights conveyed in the 1,000 responses received, a second survey (V2) has been produced to provide more definitive and comprehensive definition of the overall elements needed to achieve the EVE projects goal of making virtual teaching better than in-class, on-campus teaching. V2 is being sent to a wider group of educational stakeholders in virtual teaching—university students, as well as professors and administrators, for the purpose of expanding on the points raised in the initial survey.  It is written in six languages for recipients in North America, Latin America, and Europe.  The Eve Project Team is collecting 10,000 additional responses via version 2 of the survey to obtain the requisite input to finalize the study. 

If interested in seeing the results of the V2 survey and the broader results of the EVE study when completed, click here to leave your name, email address, and your school affiliation.  In addition to a summary of the responses, the EVE study will identify some of the best teaching methodologies and pedagogical practices for virtual teaching. Moreover, it will provide insights into some of the potential platforms, tools, methodologies, and technologies currently being piloted by the Three Amigos at Hult International Business School, San Francisco, California.

Until our paths cross again amigo — Carlos B.

For additional information, on the EVE Project, please contact, Paola Ramos: or visit the Three Amigos website:

[1] The Three Amigos are comprised of Hap Klopp, Carlos Baradello, and Paul Campbell, who presently co-teach at Hult International University in San Francisco, California. They have been co-teaching together in the areas of Global Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Intrapreneurship, Disruptive Innovations, and others for more than 7 years at both the graduate and undergraduate levels at various global universities.

[2] The EVE Project Team is comprised of the Three Amigos and 4 business students at Hult International Business School (Paola Ramos, Francesco De Conto, Gabriela Rocha, Marwen Madani).

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Coming Out a Winner in the Wake of the COVID–19 Global Reset:

A Latin America Perspective of the Venture Capital (VC) Industry

The success of the VC industry depends largely on the ability of General Partners (GPs) to invest in start–ups and exit years later at great multiples (buy low/sell high). This is a long process, often spanning many years, of selecting companies in which to invest, nurturing them to increase their valuations, and harvesting value by selling stakes. Each VC firm claims to have a unique investment thesis to deliver “unfair” returns (or gains) to its Limited Partners (LPs or investors) and to themselves (via carried interest). Most VC firms claim to have their own ‘secret sauces’ based on objective and subjective claims:

Objective Claims:

  • Past Fund(S) Performance.
  • Geographical Focus: USA, EU, Latin America (LatAm), Israel, India, China, et al––as well as bridges among two or more geographies.
  • Industry Focus: Bio–Tech, Fin–Tech, Ed–Tech, Legal–Tech, Clean–Tech (Renewables/Green Technologies), Consumer Audiences, B–2–B services, et al.
  • Time Frame: Incubation/Acceleration Phase, Early Stage (Pre–Seed and Seed), Growth Stage (Series A and Beyond), etc.

Subjective Claims:

  • Track records/careers of partners.
  • “Private” or “privileged” deal flows.
  • Networks of relationships or relationship capital.
  • University degrees and alumni networks.

The on–going COVID–19 crisis and the ensuing global recession, or likely economic depression will create the impetus to disrupt industries untouched during prior crises. The coronavirus pandemic will have long–lasting human and economic effects and will cause a massive global reset, during which most societal behaviors will be forced to change by replacing old habits and customs with new ones. The purpose of this brief is to look beyond the on–going global reset caused by the ongoing pandemic, by analyzing the impact in the VC industry, and in particular the Latin American VC industry.

The current pandemic is impacting VC firms in 4 areas:

  1. Portfolio Companies: Depending on the industry or economic sector of operations their revenues are extraordinarily negatively impacted (tourism and hospitality) while in the other extreme positively impacted (virtualization of most services), affecting their valuations and runway (slide). A special case is the decision of making follow–up investments in current portfolio companies. This is a hard one as it may lead to down–rounds or even to accelerate their death in the event the investment committee decides to pass.
  2. Limited Partners: Their ability to timely respond to the request of wiring the committed capital. If capital contributions are not made, due to the impact of the current crisis on specific LP’s finances, it may lead to the reduction of the VC fund size.
  3. Quality of Deal Flow: VC funds will need to work harder to find solid, reasonably priced deals. While many companies will likely face down rounds, attractive companies benefiting from the current crisis will likely be deluged with both old and new money, enjoying well priced valuations.
  4. Exits: The current crisis will delay market activity for possible exits, deflating valuations. There could be exceptions, but, at large, the “irrational exuberance” for Unicorn–type valuations have been diminished.

LatAm VCs will need to re-evaluate their portfolio vis-a-vis to two essential realities:

  1. The economic recession/depression is likely to have a more pronounced impact on LatAm countries. LatAm economies are more vulnerable. This will affect the valuation of those portfolio companies which heavily depend for their revenues on domestic and regional markets.
  2. A depressed LatAm economic climate will impact portfolio company exits: Likely these exits will happen outside LatAm (this was true before, and even truer in the post pandemic times). LatAm startups that have strong customer base outside LatAm, particularly in sectors that have suffered limited COVID–19 impacts, will be in privileged positions. In short, truly global start–ups whose stakeholders––including founders, customers, technology, investors, and partners––are globally–minded will likely be the winners in in the post-Coronavirus times.

In addition, most funds today, in two to five years, will inevitably seek to form new funds to compensate for decreased levels of activities (and fees) in present funds. To attract old and new LPs as investors in these new funds, the performance of present funds is critical, placing additional pressure on VC firms. The current health crisis and the economic recession that will follow decreases the odds of a stellar performances. A possible positive outcome resulting from the on-going crisis, is the renewed impetus by established corporations to expand their Open Innovation initiatives, to mitigate the increased obsolescence risk, by adding to their innovation arsenal Corporate Venture Capital (CVC).

Potential attractive areas for investment are the opportunities that have emerged from the on–going pandemic. My proposed focus would be on the economic sectors that have not yet been disrupted––the oldest industries known to mankind that have remained prevailingly untouched: health care, education, law, government, and organized religion. My invitation would be to focus on the first three industries, as the last two cut through core beliefs about how society should be organized, making disruption less likely and more uncertain in the imminent future; moreover, they often depend on intangible parameters not easily quantifiable.

If there were ever a time necessitating strong leadership, this is it! Society is accelerating exponentially. In this environment, paralysis is not an option. Action is demanded. The unprecedented speed and magnitude of COVID–19 demands that VC firms focus on three things simultaneously: 

  • Nurture and support portfolio companies: Each company (startup) must survive and re–invent itself to maximize its potential by reimagining the future.
  • Increase transparent communications: Clear, fruitful exchanges among LPs, founders, and VC’s personnel will be more important than ever to minimize uncertainty and anxiety due to the on–going crisis.
  • Empathetically manage difficult choices demanded by these challenging times: Salary reductions, personnel reductions, and renegotiations of every possible expenditure must all be on the table. Everything and anything. Why? Because there are NO SACRED COWS, during these unprecedented times. As more Startups impose salary reductions to their staff, it opens again the opportunity to potentially offset these reductions with stock options, which is still and “incomplete assignment” in the Latin entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Every crisis passed and each one gave birth to a world of new opportunities

COVID–19 offers every company a once in a lifetime great global reset opportunity. Difficult as it is to survive and rise above the gathering global storm, re–inventing one’s firm is a must to come out a vibrant and dynamic winner and thrive in a reimagined future! This will play to Latin entrepreneurs’ strengths as their DNA includes disproportionate levels of resilience and adaptability making them able to prosper in the presence of extraordinary uncertainty and socio-economic instability.

Until our paths cross again amigo — Carlos B

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An Optimistic View of the Shelter–In–Place Order: 8 Weeks Later

I don’t think I truly understood what the future had in store when I published my optimistic blogpost at the beginning of the lockdown (March 17, 2020) in all San Francisco Bay Area counties in Northern California. Almost two months later, the health problems caused by the pandemic are perhaps overshadowed by the economic costs. This impact is overwhelming, across both the developing world and here at home, affecting many families whose jobs have evaporated or been furloughed.

I have enjoyed a particularly productive time, in part because I have been continually intellectually stimulated by business partners, students, and many close friends with whom I have not communicated in a while. I did practice most of what I preached in my original blogpost, and personally the net balance has been positive. However, I have to confess that I long for the social contact of my old routine, the livelihood of the office, the lecture hall at the university campus, the coffee shop visits, etc.––and of course the close physical proximity with my family and friends, characteristics of our Latin customs.

As our businesses close and the rules require all contact to became virtual. Inertia drove the first couple of weeks as the unfinished businesses, started in our offices, were completed or abandoned as the realization that they were useless. After a couple of 8 weeks laterweeks, the new reality started to sink in. The end of March, became end of April and now most of May. By now time has given the opportunity to rationalize this rushed behavior and evaluate what happened, with our lives, finances, work, and relationships.

I am particularly disenchanted of our political leadership, at all levels, domestically or internationally. I perceive a general inability on their part to communicate clearly the conditions that led us to enter a lockdown in the first place. Moreover, what has been equally absent are clearly established lockdown exit criteria. Unfortunately, none of the conditions that could have justified to enter and potentially exit a lockdown were not met: a) the availability of a vaccine, which will not available for a good while, b) a cure for COVID–19, c) the assurance that no a single person in a given geography is sick with the COVID-19 virus, and d) the availability of plentiful testing kits at very low cost, where anyone could be tested, as often as it may be required, on demand, with highly reliable results and those results available within seconds or few minutes. Now, the wheels of the world appear slowly to start moving again, motivated by economic imperatives, without meeting any the conditions identified above. This begs to answer: why did we go into lockdown in the first place?

Furthermore, while models predicting the casualties due to the coronavirus changed often (and still are) as assumptions changed, our leadership did not alert us of the economic consequences, although economic models are plentiful and more accurate. We learned the consequences from the headlines of the business journals as they reported unemployment claims, business closures and bankruptcies, etc. I resent this type of reactive leadership, which would be unacceptable in the private sector, with a total absence of transparent communication acknowledging what is known and what is unknown. Equally absent was an honest acknowledgement of the impact of the trillions of dollars in government rescue packages will have, on the ever–growing fiscal deficits and the cost to the generations to come. The economic damage is just one of many. McKinsey recently reported[1] that across 191 countries schools are shut down, affecting the education of future generation of 1.6B children. Some have continued their educations virtually with uneven results, as learning outcomes depend not only on access to technology but teachers’ ability to repurpose their educational material for the virtual classroom to an audience with an ever–decreasing attention span.

The reactive leadership of the political class will probably pass without great personal consequences. For many, the worst–case scenario is that they may not be re–elected, and they will be forced to cash out writing juicy memoirs, join the lecture circuit, and become talking heads in one of the news networks. For the rest of us, the private sector will have to deal with the economic fallout and households will have to deal with the financial and health devastation of COVID–19.

Yes, we have not overloaded most of our hospitals, as the lockdown slowed down the propagation rate of the virus. But this wasn’t impact–free, as many health care facilities were heavily underutilized, while others patients in–need were denied access as their very much needed services were postponed to privilege potential coronavirus patients. In the meantime, the economic damage of the lockdown we imposed upon ourselves is comparable to that of the Great Depression of 1929 or worse[2], and its net health benefits remain highly questionable. Moreover, some are predicting a second or a third peak of COVID–19 to be expected for late this year or early next year.

History will revisit for years to come what exactly happened to the planet earth during Q1 and Q2 of 2020 again and again. I think that some historians will agree with my perspective that this was a period dominated by the arrogance of mankind (in particular, those in leadership position) fed by the feeling of invincibility, who chose not to prepare for an announced pandemic. World leaders forgot their fundamental purpose to serve their citizens as they were too preoccupied with their own personal interests and short–term gains, succumbing to intellectual laziness to look beyond the horizon and behave as serving leaders. They all succumbed to the hyper influence of the continuous news cycle, and a media driven business that communicates what sells, producing a herd behavior racing to the bottom as no one wanted to be left behind and remain with an open economy. The end result was that fear of the unknown dominated our spirits, and we became perfect victims of ourselves.

It is high time that we regain ownership of our protagonist role in writing our own history and driving our own destiny. Probably this will require us to rethink the value of human centric enlightened leadership, with a sense of transcendental living for others and the future generations.

One thing I am certain of: as difficult as it is for humans to change their behaviors, we had produced a decade of changes in less than 10 weeks. I’m unsure if we are prepared to pay the cost for this global experiment. The invoices will be computed over the months and years to come, and as they come due, many will go unpaid!

Until our paths cross again amigo – Carlos B.

[1] Charting the path to the next normal: If schools stay closed, how will people go back to work? May 11, 2020 

[2] BoE warns UK set to enter worst recession for 300 years, Financial Times (5/7/2020)

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COVID-19 A Massive Global Reset? Part 2

Capturing the Opportunities after the 2020 Pandemic

“A crisis is a terrible thing to waste”

The objective of this second blogpost (Part 2 of 3), is to recognize that the on-going COVID-19 crisis and the ensuing global recession, will create the impetus to disrupt industries untouched during prior crises. Part 2 - Global ResetThe purpose of this note is to look beyond the on-going massive global reset caused by the ongoing pandemic, by inviting us to position ourselves and become protagonists in seizing the moment.

The great recession (or depression?) created the impetus for several deep-seated technological, economic, political, and societal changes, to create a combined effect of greater impact. In fact, the global financial crisis of 2008[1] happened while one of the most significant and impactful technologies of modern history was introduced: the smartphone[2].

Although the sharing economy, or as it was originally coined “collaborative consumption”, could be traced several years earlier, it was during the darkest hours of the Great Recession that two emblematic companies representing this new economy (Uber and Airbnb) were founded. During the years that followed, hundreds of Unicorns from all over the world[3], mimicking Uber and Airbnb, led disruptions across many industries, taking advantage of new technology platforms and the new post-global-financial-crisis socio-economic-political reality.

For all the impetus to create value attacking established incumbents (Uber vs. the taxi industry or Airbnb vs. the hotel industry), some of the oldest industries known to mankind have remained untouched. Some of the most important include: health care, education, legal, government and organized religion.

By the virtue of being among the world oldest, these industries or enterprises share a common set of time-tested characteristics:

  1. Meet a basic human need by addressing a specific market pain,
  2. Constitute the source of livelihood for millions of people around the world for centuries,
  3. Are resilient, as their survival has been tested over multiple recessions, wars and other local/global calamities, and
  4. Refined and enhanced their business models, over the past centuries, and benefitted the ever-improving protection afforded by regulatory agencies around the world. Furthermore, the cultural acceptance of these enterprises has continued to grow mostly unchallenged by society[4].

In this blogpost, it is recognized that the on-going COVID-19 global crisis will create the impetus to disrupt some of these five industries, as it unleashes its disruptive force which will be magnified by some deep seated technological, economic, political, and societal changes taking shape over the preceding decades prior the pandemic (to be published in Part 3).

Of all the potential traditional industries identified to be disrupted, the 800-pound gorilla is the health care industry. Indeed, the Coronavirus has exposed its shortcoming across most countries around the world. Here in the USA, the health care expenditures are dangerously close to 20% of the American GDP, while 30MM of the US population does not have any coverage, and the life expectations at birth underperform by 6 to 8 years when compared to others G7 advanced economies. Successful disruption to healthcare, would promise better outcomes for everyone at cost closely aligned with most other developed countries. I predict that enormous fortunes will be made by the successful entrepreneurs able to disrupt the healthcare in the USA and export opportunities to other markets around the world.

Education is another thought-provoking candidate across all levels (K to college) and in particular tertiary level education. Suffice it to say that over the last several years teachers across the US have held countless long and inconclusive faculty meetings and other forums to discuss the opportunity to transform our classes into virtual teaching/distance learning. Yet for the last few weeks, from elementary schools to universities, classes are being held virtually. Now, the discussion has stopped and, with limited or no preparation, we are all adapting to learning by doing, and migrated our classrooms to virtual classrooms[5] since the beginning of the on-going lockdown.

Organized religion is another interesting enterprise which remained untouched for the most part over centuries. My angle of attack does not touch the core beliefs of Christianity or Buddhism, but the way they are organized and deliver the religious experience to their congregations.

What characteristics could we expect of in the new normal after the global reset? These characteristics are organized in Macro-trends and Focalized-trends.

Macro-trends cut across multiple industries, markets and geographies and they include:

  1. Frugality: consumer behavior has higher appreciation that less is more, recession makes consumer more thoughtful about expenditures and more socially and ecologically conscious. Household long-term savings increases.
  2. Less mobility, more virtualization: society has becomes more tech savvy and better able to communicate/work/play/visit/etc, virtually. Better knowledge of Apps (software tools) running on an ever-cheaper hardware. Home become a destination, home improvements and neighborhood activities capture part of the traveling and entertaining dollars.
  3. Human Capital will be plentiful: globally, competitively priced and well prepared ready to work remotely, in particular from the most punished areas by the pandemic in the emerging economies. Home-office work-tools are perfected.
  4. Gig Economy will grow: workforce on demand become a suitable option for many corporations substituting in place of full-time employees. Certain benefits will become available and baked-in the rates such as health insurance, unemployment benefits, etc.
  5. Market will enter a long-lasting bear market: money will be available as they leave the public markets, and available to fund startups. Funding sources will be highly selective, favoring those startups which have embraced the opportunities surfaced by the pandemic crash course, or follow-on investments in those portfolio companies untouched or favoured by the COVID-19.
  6. Price competition will be intense: post-recession firms will compete fiercely for every single consumer dollar across all industries/geographies. Margins will decrease, creating impetus for seeking new efficiencies and productivity gains, giving an additional stimulus to technology solutions lowering costs, reducing labor and improving quality, creating a renewed urgency of digital transformation initiatives.
  7. Global (previously unknown/unheard) actors will become fierce competitors: global providers, in particular those services which are part of the New Normal, will compete aggressively for every new opportunity.
  8. Globally interconnected and interdependent value chains will continue to grow: knowledge and supply chains are not going away, but new safeguards will be required. Redesigning and simplifying multistep supply chains and include redundancies with emergency sources closer to home. Rediscovering the “local advantage”.
  9. Overhead and bureaucracy becomes unacceptable: our days in lockdown have proven, we can thrive being self-sufficient without all the perks of our business offices setting and made evident unnecessary or redundant services.
  10. Optional features become a must in the Post COVID-19 world: transparency, ecological responsibility, simplicity become a requirement and not simply PR or marketing slogans.
  11. The pandemic increased our focus in dependable health care, and the resulting lockdown into virtual education (at all levels from Pre-K to College): both will be under scrutiny to deliver the best outcomes and the best price-performing solutions to everyone. Both will emerge (including broadband internet connectivity) as basic human rights.

Specific Focalized-trends are industry sector, technology, market or geography specific, and they include:

  1. New technological advances are quickly adopted as competitive weapons: Digital Transformation, 3D printing, AI/autonomous, 5G, robotics (soft/hard), find their way into processes, products and services to meet the new market demand in the new normal, enhance productivity, improve quality and making local manufacturing competitive again,
  2. Strong brands which strategically provide sense of belonging and emotional proximity: brands that embrace empathy and meet human aspirations aligned with the new normal, will increase a brand attractiveness,
  3. The consumer behavior already changed: Are your product/services meeting the new demands which are part of the new normal? Some examples of this new products/services are shown below:
        1. Contactless e-commerce
        2. Drone and autonomous delivery
        3. Delivery-only services and parcel protection,
        4. Health safety protection gadgets
        5. Telemedicine, home tests, wellness devices/Apps, etc.
        6. Autonomous diagnosis
        7. Accessing virtual caregivers
        8. Speaker bot companions
        9. Virtual communication, celebrations, culture forming activities
        10. Autonomous/virtual education
        11. Virtual coach/mentor for life/study/work
        12. Technology supported communities
        13. Market driven kindness and branded relief
  4. US Healthcare system disruption will be unavoidable: the pandemic has affected everyone with or without insurance coverage. Renewed focus on outcomes and price/performance. It will require the breaking of the incumbent market lock by the key players (physicians, hospitals, big-pharma, insurance companies, and others) and realign the per capita expenditures to the rest of the developed world (around 10% of GDP)
  5. Disruptive redesign of the educational system: blending public/private, virtual/physical, local/global, specific skills vs. human enlightenment and citizenship, academic/ apprenticeships, with the goal of making the students employable for life. College and universities re-design their transactional business model to become a life-time companion for constant re-skilling and personal and professional re-invention during the professional journey[6],
  6. Planning and delivering the religious experience will be different: while the dogma will depend of each individual religion, the actual planning and delivery will rely more on technology, freeing religious personnel from administrative tasks enabling them to focus into the spiritual needs of the congregation.

Business leaders, as they navigate the on-going COVID-19 crisis, will need to adjust their planning horizons into three phases[7]. The specific duration is the prevailing wisdom today under “average” conditions, but they may be optimistic, if the worst predictions became real. The planning phases are:

  • Planning Phase 1: dealing with the Coronavirus health crisis (2020 and most of 2021), represents the time to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. During this great global reset period due to health concern citizens have been constraint to live in isolation, causing great economic damage in the aggregate. Eventually towards the end of this phase, social activity begins to resume. This Phase is followed by,
  • Planning Phase 2: dealing with the global recession due to the economic damage inflicted by the Coronavirus health crisis and the societal lockdown (2021/2022 and possibly 2023), represents the time to overcome the economic recession, while employment and consumption begin to rise after the quarantine is rolled back after the COVID-19 health crisis. At the end of this phase, society is healing from the health and economic woes inflicted by the global pandemic.
  • 2023 and beyond, represents the time to reach a new normal in the world economy, assuming that no other global crisis was triggered during the recovery process.

The world was looking for an opportunity for a great global reset. The corona virus certainly offered one of epic proportions. Difficult as it certainly is to rise above the current global storm, it remains an absolute truth that the pandemic increases our dependency on technology. Furthermore, it does reinforce the importance of innovation & entrepreneurial ecosystem around the world and the leadership of Silicon Valley and its companies we have greatly depended on during this pandemic: Zoom, Twitter, Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, etc.

Part 2 - Schumpeter

A well-founded survival of the current crises is only worthy if the firm can emerge vibrant and competitive post crisis. Otherwise, as Schumpeter’s writings remind us, if a firm is destined to die, the sooner the better, releasing its resources to new and more productive sectors of the economy.

The future is now, and the opportunity is ours!

Until our paths cross again amigo – Carlos B.

[1] The global financial crisis (a.k.a. The Great Recession) began in 2007 with a depreciation in the subprime mortgage market in the United States, and it developed into an international banking crisis with the collapse of  the investment bank Lehman Brothers on September 15, 2008.

[2] The first iPhone became available to consumers on June 2007 and the first Android Phone on October 2008.

[3] Unicorn population is dominated by USA (60%) and China (15%), with a total unicorn population of about 400 worldwide… Probably shrinking today.

[4] Consumers routinely purchase health services without an a-priori knowledge of their prices and their potential outcomes, even for the most established procedures.

[5] Included Physical Education (PE) which was always excluded from virtual considerations.

[6] As life expectancy surpasses 100 for the current millennials, retirement-age will likely be pushed past 75 years old. This will require five or more re-inventions in their 50+ years professional journey.

[7] There is no certainty of the depth, length of the disruption as well as the shape of the recovery.

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COVID-19 A Massive Global Reset? Part 1

Capturing the Opportunities after the 2020 Pandemic

“Luck favors the prepared mind….” Louis Pasteur

The purpose of this blogpost is to look beyond the headlights of this ongoing global crisis and the global recession that is certain to follow and to uncover great opportunities awaiting ahead. As all prior crises, this will pass. However, the world will return to a new normal, which will be significantly different than the one prior.

“For some organizations, near-term survival is the only agenda item. Others are peering through the fog of uncertainty, thinking about how to position themselves once the crisis has passed and things return to normal. The question is, ‘What will normal look like?’ While no one can say how long the crisis will last and how deep will it be, what we find on the other side will not look like the normal of recent years.”

Ian Davis, Managing Partner, McKinsey & Co, Addressing the impact of the global financial crisis in 2008.

This is a three-part blogpost. This one (Part 1), sets the argument why the new normal radically departs from the old normal from the world as we knew it last December 2019. Part 2 discuss the characteristics of the new normal, and the business impact, and Part 3 will be a collection of thought about societal pressure points which have been gathering momentum across the world over the last few decades, and COVID-19 has provided the “excuse” to release the built-up pressure.

Runway, runway and more runway. These days, this is the most over-used word by us at our Alaya partner’s meetings and by our portfolio companies, as well as by other colleagues’ investors and VC’s. This advice, to prepare for the inevitable recession, requires Startups to go into survival mode and freeze all variable expenses, which include team cuts, salary reductions, hiring freezes, curtailing marketing, traveling, office rent, and every possible expense. No sacred cows!

Part 1-1However, the goal is not survival for survival’s sake, nor is it an exercise of unimaginable actions just a few weeks ago, to disavow or renegotiate all prior commitments and contracts just because the crisis enables us to, or the clause of force majeure provides the legal framework to rescind any contract. The purpose of survival for as long as the global pandemic and the ensuing recession (or depression?) last, is to navigate today’s uncertainty in order to thrive in what will be the new, post-COVID-19 world.

Normality is when society behaves according to collectively accepted norms and operating protocols. The coronavirus pandemic will have long-lasting human and economic effects and will cause a massive global reset, during which most societal behaviors will be forced to change by replacing old habits and routines with new ones.

Habits are highly effective in helping us work, look after our families and pursue our life goals. As the lockdown (or “shelter-in-place” as it is called here in California) is applied everywhere around the world for multiple weeks, the world will sustain a shock never seen on this global scale. A shock of this magnitude will create a discontinuous shift in the preferences and expectations of individuals as citizens, as employees, and as consumers. These shifts will impact our routines; the very rhythm of our lives will change significantly, particularly in how we communicate, how we live, how we work, and how we use technology. All these elements will emerge more clearly over the coming weeks and months to form a new and complex equation. Success will favor those firms able to lead in solving this equation.

As consumer habits and preferences evolve, enterprises able to solve this equation and position themselves to exploit it effectively will disproportionately succeed and thrive. Clearly, the online world of contactless economy could be bolstered in ways that adapt to and reshape consumer behavior forever. But other effects could prove even more significant as the pursuit of efficiency gives way to the requirement of resilience—the end of supply-chain globalization, for example, if production and sourcing move closer to the end user. Opportunities to push the envelope of technology adoption will be accelerated by rapid learning about what it takes to drive productivity when labor is unavailable. The result: a stronger sense of what makes business more resilient to shocks, more productive, and better able to perceive and deliver what customers wants.

The physical analog business world is being decimated in the current crisis, particularly traditional analog businesses including hotels, restaurants and airlines during this crisis. The digital world, however, is thriving. We are surviving through this pandemic because of technology. All of us sitting in our home-offices have a potent window to the world through the internet connection to our smartphones, tablets, laptops and of course our TVs (and our favorite shows in Netflix).

The aftermath of the pandemic will also provide an opportunity to learn from myriad social innovations and experiments, ranging from working from home to large-scale surveillance. With this will come an understanding of which innovations, if adopted permanently, might provide substantial uplift to economic and social welfare—and which would ultimately inhibit the broader betterment of society, even if helpful in halting or limiting the spread of the virus. Some of these virtual or low-touch services include:

          • Autonomous/virtual education
          • Virtual celebrating with friends and family members
          • Digital corporate culture
          • Home aesthetics
          • Health safety protection gadgets
          • Telemedicine, home tests, wellness devices/Apps, etc.
          • Speaker bot companions
          • Tech communities
          • Accessing virtual caregivers
          • Market driven kindness and branded relief
          • Delivery-only services and parcel protection,

Practice makes us proficient! Many of new habits save us time, are more cost effective, enable us to reduce generational divides, or simply make our personal and professional lives better. Clearly not every new habit is a net gain nor are they necessarily more satisfying, but clearly in the post COVID-19 world we will have a richer set of options, which will include blending the new with the old.

Looking back 18 months from now, trying to explain the market mood in the days prior to the pandemic, it is likely to appear that global markets were looking for an excuse to have a massive correction. In addition, multiple change vectors, which have been building-up pressure across the world (see Part 3), were looking for the appropriate gathering storm to release their accumulated energy over the last few decades. Together, the COVID-19 pandemic presents a breakpoint, a non-linear disruption from the world as we knew it before this crisis started few months ago.Part 1-2part 1 - quote

The corona virus offered the opportunity for a Great Global Reset. Difficult as it certainly is, to rise above the current global storm, it is a must. But survival for survival sake is not an option, survival only makes sense if we can emerge from the crisis re-invented, vibrant and dynamic, as protagonist in a future we have actively participated to re-imagine.

Until our paths cross again amigo – Carlos B.

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