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.