New World in an Old Suit

Catastrophe brings opportunity … for those who look!

I’m not downplaying the covid tragedy because too many have already died.

It is time however to take a fresh breath and clear your mind of negativity.

I’m also not talking about capitalizing on sparse supplies like PPE and toilet paper.

I’m not even talking about the clichéd “silver lining”.

I’m talking about what happens when the furor dies down and we venture out into deep water.

Part of the problem with fisheries and the seafood industry is that we’ve been operating on borrowed time for quite a while, à la “Dead Fish Walking.” We all know it, but most still refuse to acknowledge that WE ALL helped contribute to seafood challenges – including consumers.

Overfishing isn’t a myth, although WHO is doing it … is.

In a former career I produced shows in many of the main rooms in Vegas, at venues like Caesar’s Palace and Harrah’s. Each time a recession hit, many casinos scrambled to rebuild. Quite literally, sometimes, they would blow up old casinos and build brand new. Mostly though, they simply rebuilt the gaming areas.

When you have no customers for reasons beyond your control, leverage the downtime and rebuild!

One of the most popular restaurants in White Rock, BC, Charlie Don’t Surf is renovating and will be ready for post-covid crowds.

It was always easy to spot the casinos who were struggling. They were the companies doing nothing except waiting for the crowds to return. The real heavy hitters shifted gears quickly and prepared for the return of crowds.

When Covid arrived in week one, I immediately began rebranding my offering and rebuilding my web presence.

Like everyone, I naively thought, and hoped Covid-19 would only impact us for a couple of weeks, but it quickly became apparent after watching Italy that we were in for a long haul. It spurred me on to reinvent everything I knew about fisheries and seafood.

I was disappointed like everyone because I was in the middle of a new fisheries project that had already absorbed all of my time for several months, and I was concerned it would stall. Then, I realized; EVERYONE is in the same boat and the tide was dropping rapidly.

I also realized that no one, not even the most in-tune c-suite executives knew what was about to happen, although some did recognize it was time to rebuild.

My specialty is rebuilding struggling companies and organizations, so maybe I was looking harder, but by now, if you haven’t figured this out too, you really need to step back and rethink the challenge for a moment.

There are so many things that need FIXING in FISHERIES that it’s a bit hard to even know where to start. My advice in this respect is to change what you have control over, and leave the big stuff to the collective, and to governments.

Ask yourself what YOU can do TODAY to improve the elements of fisheries and seafood where you’re the most involved and invested. Be the change the world needs and take advantage of this temporary downtime to reinvent yourself.

In several months we’ll be able to see who was proactive, and who sat around moaning and playing solitaire. Personally, I’m so busy in this downturn I can’t even find time to sleep.

By the time we were one month into the slowdown my head was spinning so fast with new ideas I couldn’t keep up.

In retrospect, seven weeks of slowdown in my region has clarified the water and helped me see what needs to be done and what is feasible. We have a special challenge with Covid because it’s kept us apart, at least physically, but our phones, Zoom, and Skype still work and allow us to meet virtually to plan, and in some cases also execute.

Everyone now knows that how the world markets food, especially the western world, will change dramatically.

Supply chains are being turned inside out.

How will it affect you?

Are you prepared?

We’re already seeing very serious deviations in other industries, like the movie business for example. Feature films like Trolls World Tour and Planet of the Humans are bypassing movie theaters and going straight to digital, and it’s causing huge concern with movie theater owners. The reality though, is that like fishers, processors, and distributors, there isn’t much theater owners can do except change how they do business. Once a customer takes a leap into a new style of product delivery it’s incredibly hard to draw them back to their old ways. Movie theaters won’t become obsolete overnight, but they are going to have to work even harder to keep an even smaller crowd interested. The same will happen with seafood.

Covid has ramped up online ordering in the supply chain, and it’s eating away at brick and mortar rapidly. Online marketing has been simmering in the background for years with many companies waiting until critical mass signaled a time to move. The time is now.

Six weeks ago we began daydreaming of a time when we could return to normal. Four weeks ago we realized there would never be a normal, and we called it the “NEW NORMAL.”

Today, take NORMAL off your radar.

Relations with China and the world are deteriorating with citizens in almost every western country demanding to cut ties and focus more energy on forging relationships with countries that reflect similar cultural and political views. The overarching goal for many is to produce goods domestically in their respective countries. It’s a nice thought, but it could easily take a decade to develop and build new manufacturing networks.

If you do business in China, get ready for a sea change.

If you thought it was challenging yesterday, tomorrow will be exponentially complex and frustrating.

Many smaller companies will not survive. Some are already bowing out before they lose everything. In the past, during shake ups like this, many companies amalgamated in order to survive, and the same is starting to happen today.

Some companies are in PREDATORY MODE and buying up shares of struggling companies. Live Nation and Carnival Cruises recently saw massive investments from Saudi Arabia, but there will be more, many more.

The moral here is that change drives change, and if you’re not flexible, you’ll be in trouble!

Survival of the fittest does not mean what people often think. The adage is often mistakenly attributed to Darwin, and in part he was the catalyst, but he was referring to single cell creatures and how they constantly adapt to their surroundings – similar to the novel corona virus.

It is not the strongest,
or the most intelligent that survive.
It is the one most adaptable to change

Words to live by …  literally.

Maurice Cardinal has been a fisheries marketing and communications advisor and writer in British Columbia for almost a decade and has worked with leading organisations, NGOs, and governments in Canada and abroad.

Covid-19 Supply Chain Safety Tips

I see it every day.

It’s worrisome,
but expected.

One of the most challenging parts of a journey for almost everyone in almost every venture, is the last mile, whether it’s about getting your fish to market fresh, or avoiding being infected with Covid-19.

Most of us do great out of the gate, but half-way through a long race many let down their guard, and all their hard work hits the wall!

Pacing yourself and paying careful attention to details defines winners, whether it is a seafood supply chain or Covid-19.

Regarding coronavirus, the general public has been thrown even further off balance because last month most of us thought this pesky virus would blow through in a couple of weeks and we’d all be back to normal in no time. We know now that two months plus is more realistic, and obviously more if we get hit like Italy. Bulldozing your way through this global pandemic is foolhardy and irresponsible.

Covid-19 is a life changer for all of us young and old, personally and in business.

Natural selection is going viral at warp speed.

It’s not the fittest who will survive though, it’s the one who is the most flexible and who can react the fastest to a constantly changing scenario. In the case of fisheries, it’s all about finding better solutions for overfishing and ocean pollution.

In the case of Covid-19 it’s about ramping up our health care infrastructure so it can handle overload in case we hit critical mass – we need more “last mile” ventilators to handle the burst.

Being flexible is of paramount importance.

Funny thing about viruses, you can do one hundred things right, but one small mistake can immediately place you at ground zero. There are no do-overs and “let’s try it again” scenarios that will UN-infect you.

Most of us are conscientious and following advice from scientists and political leaders. Unfortunately, there is a lot of info floating around making it hard to identify what is true, and what might be “deadly myth” masquerading as common sense.

For example, most people still don’t understand that the real danger is not that you touched the Covid-19 virus with your hand. It’s that you transferred the virus from your hand to an open part of your body, like your eyes, nose, or mouth.

Touching Covid-19 won’t harm you directly.

The last metaphoric mile to your nose however, is a different story.

If you’re curious about who is confused about Covid-19, all you have to do is look at the COMMENT sections in news media. People ask questions that by now everyone should know. For example, many still compare Covid-19 to measles. Granted, they are both viruses and close in appearance, but only until you get to the last mile. The measles virus is smaller physically than Covid-19, but both viruses when coughed or sneezed float in the air, albeit for different lengths of time. Air suspension means that when you step into an elevator, if someone who is Covid-19 positive sneezed in that confined space a few minutes earlier, the virus could still be floating in the air you breathe as you ride to your floor. It’s even possible that a person’s regular breathing, without a cough or sneeze, could infect you. Too many people are myopically focused on not touching elevator buttons with your finger, which is a good advice of course, but we also need to be concerned about what we breathe.

Confined spaces are one reason it’s dangerous to fly.

The measles virus is relatively small compared to Covid-19 that is made up of larger drops of vapor, or worse, mucus that spews out even when you talk normally. It can land within a meter or two radius. Covid-19 can live outside the body for hours or even days depending on the surface and ambient temperature. Fecal matter also carries great risk. Washroom taps and door handles at home or in public areas are serious danger zones.

The overarching challenge is that scientists still argue about how long measles and Covid-19 float in the air. Measles is a smaller airborne mass, consequently, it floats longer, up to half an hour on average, plus, because it is so small it more easily sticks to clothes. Cross-contamination is a bit different between the two viruses, but when you’re talking about a potentially fatal illness, are you going to argue whether the virus was airborne for ten minutes, or for half an hour? You have no idea if the last person who exited the elevator one minute before you coughed into the air that you’re now inhaling. You did everything great for the last two weeks, but at the last mile, you lose. What floor sir?

If you’re able, it’s safer to take the stairs simply because it has considerably more air volume, but again it depends on you or your stairwell. That’s where common sense comes into play. There often is no perfectly right answer. Lowering your odds is your best bet, but nothing is guaranteed.

Here’s another example; You obey all the rules that scientists and doctors are promoting, and you only go to the grocers when you truly need something … not because you’re out of ice cream. You shop carefully at off-peak times, wipe the handle of your shopping cart or basket with alcohol-based sanitizer, wear and use gloves properly, you don’t over-handle products, especially fruits and vegetables, you keep your distance from other shoppers, and you breathe a huge sigh of relief when you get home.

Relieved, you start to unpack your groceries in your kitchen, proud of yourself that you traversed without incident the risky trip to the market, but as you’re putting your groceries away you realize that the little reusable veggie bag you placed your hand-picked tomatoes in, is now sitting on your counter. Less than twenty minutes earlier, the bag was sitting in a well-used shopping basket and then on the belt for the cashier.

Not only do you not know how many people actually handled your tomatoes – customers or staff, you don’t know if any of these people, who might have been infected, coughed on, or touched the cashier’s belt where thousands of shoppers converge. Not everyone buys tomatoes, but almost everyone checks out, so how careful you are in this high traffic area is critical.

If your food containers, bags or boxes, jars, or egg cartons rested on the cashier’s belt it would be risky to place it on your kitchen counter where you prepare food.

Food doesn’t normally carry viruses, but the bag could be contaminated as well as the box it came in.

Unlike birthday presents, effort counts for nothing – zero, zip, nada. It’s all about being effective, so err on the side of caution and pay careful attention to the little details all along the supply chain.

Here’s one more tip, if you wear glasses, make sure they fit snug so you don’t have to touch your face a hundred times a day to push them back up on your nose. Oh yeah, wash your eye glasses daily too, along with your phone, credit cards and cash.

It’s the last mile, or millimeter that will kill you.

Maurice Cardinal has been a fisheries marketing and communications advisor and writer in British Columbia for almost a decade and has worked with leading organisations, NGOs, and governments in Canada and abroad.