We recently sat down with World-Class Speaker and Futurist, Joyce Gioia [joy-yah], who is also the CEO of The Herman Group of Companies.
Joyce started her first business at the age of 14 and never looked back. At the age of 28, she was the youngest national magazine publisher in the United States. She worked for The Direct Marketing Group in New York City and was responsible for some ground-breaking promotional programs including one of the first syndications between a catalog and a magazine. As a Celebrity Futurist, she has appeared over 70 times on local and national television in the US, New Zealand, and Ghana. As a professional speaker, Joyce has spoken in 30 countries, in 47 of the United States, on 7 continents, and on the 7 seas. Her Herman Trend Alert is read weekly by 29,000 people in 90 countries in three languages. Joyce is often quoted in the media, including in the US in Industry Week, TIME, Entrepreneur, and Forbes. Joyce has written a total of 6 books, including 3 bestsellers.
So, I know you feel excited to see how a futurist thinks, this is why I will quickly dive into the interview.
How do you think Covid-19 has changed the business landscape? Are the old ways of doing and managing business becoming history?
Joyce: Some businesses are doing remarkably well, while others are suffering. COVID-19 has changed the business landscape forever. The old ways of doing business and leading people will no longer be as effective. Leaders will need to be more empathetic and effective if they want to retain staff and be successful in the future. There will be companies that cling to the old ways, but like dinosaurs, they will disappear.
From the trends so far, online businesses are flourishing – be it online grocery or online gaming. Do you think the trend would continue? Or will there be a return of the offline?
Joyce: The answer is, “Both, and.” Online businesses will continue to thrive for the foreseeable future—as will the novel coronavirus—through the grocery business will go up and down with the numbers of infections. Gaming will continue to thrive—but when folks are able to get out more, gaming will decline somewhat.
You talked about a new normal – Normal 2.0. Could you elaborate on the concept a bit more?
Joyce: We are in what I call Normal 2.0, an evolution from Normal 1.0. I call it that to distinguish between going back to something and moving forward into a new reality. Think about the annual vaccines we have for the flu; in the last three years, they have been between 20 and 40 percent effective. Sadly, viruses mutate. Even if the SARS-COVID-2 vaccine is 60 percent effective, we will be wearing masks for years to come. The good news is that we, as humans, will adapt. We will become accustomed to Normal 2.0.
As you mentioned, the Covid-19 situation is evolving. How do you rate the response of the science and technology sector towards the pandemic outbreak?
Joyce: The answer is, “It depends.” The US response has been terrible. The lack of national leadership has cost hundreds of thousands of lives (204,000+ deaths) and will result in economic devastation that will take the country years to dig out of. We will lose at least 40 to 60 percent of our small to medium-size businesses. A relatively low percentage of people in the US are wearing masks. It is pathetic. On the other hand, the response from New Zealand has been exemplary. With a total of 1,833 case numbers and 25 deaths, the Kiwis have led the world in their prompt and effective response to this pandemic. We know what works, masking, physical distancing, and handwashing, but unfortunately, due to our ignorant president who has fostered a culture of not wearing masks, many of his followers still believe that the virus is hoax and it is not sensible to wear masks. I want to create a t-shirt that says, “I survived COVID-19, the deadliest hoax in history.”
Will there be a change of direction for technology growth? In what ways technology companies can benefit from the possible winds of change?
Joyce: Technology has seen an exponential rise during this challenging time. There has been tremendous growth in sharing platforms and other technologies supporting remote work.
You have hinted at more similar outbreaks in the future. How do companies incorporate the possibility of similar outbreaks in their business forecasts, estimates, plans, and fund management?
Joyce: Yes, unless and until we can address the issues of climate change, we will continue to see continuing epidemics and pandemics. The ability of bacteria and viruses to jump from animals to humans means that we are in for a rough time until we are able to adapt to rapid testing, treatments, and contact tracing for new diseases that appear seemingly from nowhere.
What would be your advice to small businesses, which seem to be hit the hardest by the pandemic situation?
Joyce: Look for new ways to promote your business; consider communicating with your prospects and customers via text and/or social media. Find ways to connect on a deeper level with your customers or clients. Look at what they want from you as well as how you might deliver more value by looking at what you already have that has a high perceived value on the part of your market.
Small business entrepreneurs would love to read some short-term tips to that will help them tide over the crisis. Business managers are worried over many dilemmas: business growth vs cost-cutting, new customer acquisition vs job cutting, fund management vs advertisement, or more generally caution vs aggression. What is your take on this?
- Look for other entrepreneurs who serve the same market as yours and see if you could have them give you gifts or discounts for their services and you would, in turn, give yours to their customers.
- Look for apps that can help you short-cut the need for administrative help, e.g., Amy.ai or Calendy.com for scheduling.
- Make sure you are a little more careful about taking risks, knowing that there are many unknowables about our near-term future.