Dairy Marketing Practice | Contributing Columnist


From Isolation To Investment

Dan Strongin ASQ CMQ/OE Uncorporate Consultant

March 26, 2021


2020 was a year of Isolation, Loss and Risk. We were forced to become too connected by virtual networks, flashing in and out of Facebook, and Instagram in stretches of a few minutes. Virtually together, factually alone: no hugs, no laughing in groups. For many of us: loss. Even in my family we lost twin cousins in an absolutely cruel and unimaginable blow.

Nature is not kind, it just is. To us it can seem a blessing, and true to the root of the word Blessing, a wound.

On the other hand, I found hidden treasures in being forced to stay at home. I reconnected with family. My wife and I took in my mother-in-law. The things you have had to do to stay safe are hard for us, imagine for a person 85. For more than a year now, we have been taking care of each other, making sure we wash our hands and don’t touch our face! Things that irritated me in the past seem so unimportant. We rarely leave the house, so we had time to rediscover the intimacy of family.

As you may remember, if you read my last column, I volunteered part of my time to facilitating collaborative groups of small business owners: stores and cheese makers. I told them at the outset, that the two most successful food businesses I had worked with or for had started during the Great Depression.

Historically food does better than other industries, but there were dangers, and knowing what to do next can be nary on impossible when everything around you is constantly changing. All of them had to radically change how they do business overnight. No one can know what is going to happen when surrounded by chaos. Predicting is a waste of time. Our catchphrase became: Be Agile and Flexible, but Validate Quickly.

The core challenge was to find things that worked to generate enough revenue to survive, while protecting what is yours. It was a time to conserve, pivot, test and pounce. Working together in situations of very real danger can draw people together and draw out the best in them. Everyone in those groups has worked their you know whats off, but are in good shape financially. Only one of them got the coronovirus Covid 19.

Like so many things in life, we learn how to endure adversity. But these are dubious lessons, since we may never face the same things again. We also learn that many of the things we thought we had to do in the past were doing nothing for us. They seemed so important, but were not. In the groups they share they will not return to doing the things that used up so much of their energy and time for little reward.
2020, was the lost year, and the year of loss. But it has ended. Despite the shock of living through the adage, the storm always gets worse before the end, the storm is ending, and this pandemic will become a memory, and a scar. Despite the hollowness of loss and the pain of separation from those we held dear, and did not make it through the storm, 2021 is another year.

It will be a year of careful action if you own a business. We must reconnect and deepen our relationships with friends, colleagues, customers, collaborators, partners, suppliers and mentors.

I have never made make resolutions. I am a pragmatist. However, in 2021, the extreme nature of what happened in 2020 leads me to make the following:

I must recuperate from isolation, and rise up from the scars of the pandemic. Life is short. Chances are, shorter for me than for you, given my age.

I must desensitize myself from the thrill of the superficial communication we fell victim to in Social Media. Learn to KNOW less and ASK more.

After a time of profound loss, 2021 will be a time to invest. I will invest in myself, leave time to be humble, and not think that because it makes sense to me, it must be true. I will invest in being grateful for what remains. Develop new skills, like listening.

2021 is also a year to invest in your business. Not money, if you can avoid it. Invest in your systems, your people and processes. Invest in all the things that do not consume your nest egg. Protect it, if you can.
It is fragile and rough winds have shaken it to the core. But we must keep life and your business flowing. What goes around, comes around. After the last pandemic, came the Roaring Twenties, but don’t be fooled. After the Roaring Twenties, came the Great Depression.

We have to learn how to live and work and thrive in the middle, and as much as possible avoid the extremes.

And my last resolution is to make a place in my heart for all those who lost family, friends and work in 2020. It hurts. It isn’t fair, and there is no one to blame. And we must go on! DS

Dan Strongin is a former president of the American Cheese Society, chef and business coach for small to medium value added businesses. Dan can be reached via email at dan@danstrongin.com




The views expressed above do not necessarily reflect those of Cheese Reporter.



Dan Strongin

Dan Strongin is a former president of the American Cheese Society, chef and business coach for small to medium value added businesses, and the owner of the sites learn.managenaturally.com, and the Facebook group Enjoy Cheese. His online course: “Cheese: How to Buy, Store, Taste, Pair, Talk About and Serve”, is available at enjoycheese.net. Dan can be reached via email at dan@danstrongin.com.

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