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How Everyday Life Has Changed - Expert Conversations

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COVID-19 Insights October 13, 2020
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The pandemic has altered just about every aspect of our lives: how we interact with people, how we work, how we shop and how we bank, just to name a few. All the while, we’ve had to manage our physical and mental well-being.  

But even as the promise of a vaccine grows closer by the day, there are still questions about how our everyday lives will continue to evolve. What new methods, technologies and habits are on the horizon? Will some of the old ways return? What might the next normal look like?  

On our latest episode of The Road to Recovery: Expert Conversations, host Eric Boles spoke with three experts about how everyday life has changed. Our panelists for the discussion were: 

Dr. John Whyte, Chief Medical Officer, WebMD
Cameron Fowler, Chief Strategy and Operations Officer, BMO
Erica Kuhlmann, U.S. Commercial Group Head, Food, Consumer and Agribusiness, BMO
Eric Boles, CEO and Founder, The Game Changers, Inc, Expert Conversations Host

Following is a summary of their discussion. 

Where We Are, Where We’re Heading

The early days of the pandemic were a shock to many organizations. The way offices looked on March 31 was completely different from the way they looked on March 1. By early October, the COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. surpassed 210,000. Meanwhile, the country is showing early signs of the feared second wave, with infections on the rise again in most states, including regions that had gotten the virus under control through the summer.

Just as they did in the spring, businesses will likely have to adjust to a new phase this fall and winter. But we shouldn’t see organizations scrambling the way they did a few months ago. A positive element that has emerged from this new reality was an acceleration of innovation. 

“The change in circumstance was an amazing opportunity for us to consolidate some of the gains that we had made in terms of digital innovative capabilities, and also to accelerate others,” Fowler said. “The most pronounced changes in the early days were an increase in digital adoption from consumers—those who were doing some digital activity with us began to more, and those that had been limited in their digital engagement increased as well.” 

Digital adoption has also changed the face of health care and will continue to do so as we move forward. According to Whyte, it’s a change that’s long overdue.  

“What we're seeing is we're finally going to have patient centricity, where the patient’s in charge and the focus is on the patient as opposed to the medical community,” Whyte said. “So we have telehealth and telemedicine. Why do I have to go into an office when you literally can bring care to me? I can see anyone around the country or around the world depending on my needs. That's a big change, but it's much more than telemedicine. It's the use of wearables and sensors, trackers, and remote patient monitoring. With COVID, one silver lining is the acceleration and the adoption of technologies that are going to improve patient care.” 

Fowler said the next stage of innovation at BMO involves the evolution of digital technology from a sales channel to a full operating model “where we conceive of products and services that are actually designed for digital consumption and digital services. That's a tremendous opportunity, whether it's in the self-service areas of retail or in other parts of financial services. What that will do is improve the experience and efficiency, of course, but also enable us to invest more time in human advice, which as we travel into a more challenging economic backdrop is going to be more important than ever before.” 

The Food Industry Pivots 

Anyone who went to the grocery store in the early days of the pandemic noticed a difference on the shelves. Consumer behavior changed, and companies along the supply chain—from food manufacturers to distributors to retailers—had to adjust. As Kuhlmann explained, distributors and manufacturers struggled to keep up with demand for essential products as consumers loaded their pantries in response to stay-at-home orders. But that also forced the industry to adapt and innovate. 

“The shock to the supply chain was immediate,” she said. “What we saw were manufacturers simplifying their product lineup so that they could scale up production. The other thing that was really interesting was how quickly we saw different players pivot in the food sector. An example of that was the foodservice distributors—they worked with the retailers to relabel and repackage their products to be sold in grocery stores.” 

There’s also been a change in the way food companies interact with their customers. Kuhlmann noted that more manufacturers have established direct-to-consumer channels, while front-line service workers at retailers and restaurants are taking on a more valuable role. 

“Having that employee who is delivering the groceries to someone’s car with curbside [delivery] or delivering to someone’s house, that person became the brand ambassador for that retailer,” she said. 

Evolving Interactions 

It’s not just delivery workers. The pandemic has altered how we've all been able to interact with friends, family, coworkers and the general public. With more than 7 million COVID-19 cases in the U.S. 1 and more than 170,000 cases in Canada2, Whyte said the pandemic has created a sense of loneliness and isolation for many people. 

"I wish we had used the phrase that Canada has used—‘physical distancing’ instead of ‘social distancing.’ That makes a difference,” he said. “At WebMD searches for anxiety and anxiety-related medicines are seven times what they were before [the pandemic]. People are really struggling. We have this infectious disease epidemic, but we're also having a mental health pandemic. And the point that we need to focus on is our personal health. We want to figure out how do we stay sane while we stay safe as we move forward.” 

The ‘Now Normal’ 

It’s natural to wonder when life will begin to resemble the pre-pandemic days again. But many have pointed out that there is no going back completely. But as Kuhlmann put it, the so-called “new normal” may be better described as the “now normal.” Making that adjustment requires a change in mindset. 

“We have to move away from this idea of, When do we return to normal? to How do we adjust in terms of what's going on?” Whyte said.  

Whyte said the fact that multiple therapeutic and vaccine candidates have emerged so quickly are to be celebrated. But he cautioned against thinking that a vaccine will immediately turn back the clock to February 2020. For starters, the first doses will likely go to medical professionals, first responders and the most at-risk citizens (such as the elderly or people with underlying conditions). With that in mind, a wide-scale vaccination program may not be available until spring 2021 (that is, if a vaccine is available by the end of this year). That’s why Whyte said life will continue to require constant adjustments. 

“Build that COVID bubble that many of us have talked about, slowly expand your group,” he said. “Talk about how do we manage risk in terms of opening schools and opening businesses while keeping people safe. I think we're going to continue to iterate over the next few months. Continue to open up in stages while closely monitoring outbreaks in the community. So that's a lot of testing, as Canada has been doing very well and the United States is catching up. And then a lot of tracing as well, finding out who might have been exposed. That's how we're going to return to some sense of normal—control the infection in the community and then businesses and schools will continue to be able to reopen more.” 

And going back to the way things were may not be the best path forward. As Whyte said, the pandemic has forced us to question certain assumptions: Is it really necessary to travel to close a deal? Do you need to be in the office every day? Do you need to visit a doctor’s office, or can you schedule a telemedicine appointment? Ultimately, he said, those reassessments will be healthy. 

“We're going to have to figure out what really matters, and we're have to start spending more time taking care of ourselves,” Whyte said. "We have to acknowledge our feelings. We have to let people know it's OK to be anxious and scared during these times of uncertainty. But how do we plot a path forward together... in how we can improve post-COVID and change in many ways on those things that are going to help improve our lives personally, professionally, financially.” 

1 New York Times 


About Expert Conversations

In this series we unpack how 2020 has changed the way we live and work forever. We’ll compare pre-2020, what we’ve learned throughout 2020 and where these leaders think 2021 will take us. We’ll reflect on seven broad topics, to help you prepare for and successfully establish a future-ready organization.

Catch up on episodes you missed or join us for our future episodes: 

Keeping a Pulse on Your People July 29, 2020

The Rise of Virtual Learning August 14, 2020

Workplace Transformation  August 26, 2020

How the Democratic Process Will Change September 9, 2020

Reshaping Talent September 23, 2020

How Everyday Life Has Changed October 7, 2020

How 2020 Will Shape a Generation October 21, 2020




Eric Boles: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Road to Recovery: Expert Conversations. I'm your host, Eric Boles. I don't have to tell you that 2020 has been a year unlike any we've ever seen. We shop differently, we eat differently, we work differently and we bank differently, all the while trying to manage our own physical and mental wellbeing. So what's next? How will the COVID-19 pandemic continue to change how we live our everyday lives? My guests today are looking ahead at the way different facets of our lives will continue to change.

Eric Boles: Dr. John Whyte is a Chief Medical Officer at WebMD, Cam Fowler is the Chief Strategy and Operations Officer at BMO, and Erica Kuhlmann is the group head of BMO's US Food, Consumer and Agribusiness Group, that works with clients in the grocery and food and beverage production industries. I want to thank all of you for joining me today.

Eric Boles: So we're going to jump right into it, and this first question is going to be for you, Dr. Whyte. How has the pandemic evolved how we've been able to interact with friends, family, co-workers, and the general public?

Dr John Whyte: Well, thank you for having me, Eric, and it's great to be with all of you. As you pointed out, it really has changed how we do everything. 7.2 million cases in the United States, 160,000 cases in Canada, and really, it has created this sense of loneliness for many people in isolation. I wish we had used the phrase that Canada has used of physical distancing instead of social distancing and that makes a difference.

Dr John Whyte: We know at WebMD search for anxiety and anxiety-related medicines are seven times what they were before. So people are really struggling. We have this infectious disease epidemic, but we're also having a mental health pandemic. The point now that we need to focus on, Eric, is our personal health as well. We want to figure out how do we stay sane while we stay say safe as we move forward?

Eric Boles: That right there, staying sane while staying safe. Yeah, I've seen so much, doctor in terms of the isolation, the impact of isolation and its impact on so many. Thank you for that. Not only in relationship to how people are doing from a mental health issue, but this next question I want to begin with you Cam in regards to our workplaces. So our workplaces on March 1st looked much different than our workplaces on March 31st. And what was that transition like for both essential and frontline workers, as well as those who worked in roles that didn't require an actual physical presence?

Cameron Fowler: Thanks, Eric. Yes, the reality of the financial services industry being populated with essential workers added complexity in those early days to be sure. So the focus for us was on mobilizing quickly, but most importantly, the health and safety of our employees and that of our customers. Many steps involved with that. We were the beneficiaries of a great deal of external support during those early days. Because countries primarily to the east of us had experienced more than we had, we were able to learn from China, from Italy, from peer banks across those countries.

Cameron Fowler: Many of us spent almost every day online with very generous folks from those countries helping us think through. Along with advice from folks like Dr. Whyte and beyond, we were able to chart a course that I think was quite useful. On the frontline side, it was really the obvious bits, physical space changes from signage, decals, tape, screens. For those that were in those roles, and in other roles, we quickly realized how important it was to stabilize our supply chain, especially as it relates to PPE products to make sure that we could get what we needed in terms of sanitizers, masks, et cetera.

Cameron Fowler: And then the complexity of getting those who weren't necessarily in BMO offices set up to work from the location that they would be in primarily at home. And for our organization, Eric, that involved getting nearly 20,000 people set up to work from home in just a matter of days, which was probably one of the most important things that had happened to us.

Cameron Fowler: The final point I would make links to Dr. Whyte's point, which is wrapped around all of that physical safety, obviously, but as the days and weeks have gone by, the mental health of our teams and of our customers has become quite a prominent concern and area of focus.

Eric Boles: Thank you, Cam, so much. I just think of the challenge with uncertainty already in people's individual lives, now it was uncertainty inside of uncertainty. But I got to compliment you, the speed by which you all had to adapt was, wow, amazing. So this question number three is going to be for you Erica, and that question is anyone who went to the store saw a difference on the shelves, and what was the consumer behavior and how did retailers actually adjust?

Erica Kuhlmann: So I think we all remember just how chaotic those first few weeks under shutdown, what they were, and what the grocery stores looked like. Consumers were pantry loading. Retailers, distributors, and manufacturers really struggled to keep up with the demand for food, for [inaudible 00:05:52], toilet paper, all the products that are essential. And the shock to the supply chain was immediate.

Erica Kuhlmann: What we saw were manufacturers simplifying their product lineups so that they could scale up production. At the same time, we saw retailers instituting policies and procedures to keep their employees safe and reassure their customers that it was safe to shop. And of course, what we saw was e-commerce and online shopping really take off. However, we also saw retailers really struggle to keep up with curbside pickup, delivery and executing that strategy.

Erica Kuhlmann: I think the other thing that we saw, which was really interesting, was how quickly we saw different players pivot in the food sector. And as an example of that was really the food service distributors. I mean, they worked with the retailers to relabel and repackage their products to be sold in the grocery store.

Eric Boles: Erica, thank you so much for that. When you were describing just some of the behaviors, I still remember how invaluable toilet paper and paper towels were going through that process.

Erica Kuhlmann: Absolutely.

Eric Boles: Yes. This question is going to be again for Cam and Erica and Erica, I'm going to start with you. But this question asks there was an initial shock to many organizations, but the plus side was an acceleration of innovation. So what were some of the advancements that happen in how did consumers respond?

Cameron Fowler: I'll lead off here, Eric. Thank you. The change in circumstance, as you say, was an amazing opportunity for us to, I think, consolidate some of the gains that we had made in terms of digital and innovative capabilities, and also to accelerate others. I would think that we would say the most pronounced changes early days were an increase in digital adoption from consumers, both those who were doing some digital activity with us began to do more. Those that have been limited in their digital engagement increased as well. So adoption being probably one of the big changes.

Cameron Fowler: Maybe the bigger change, Eric was the ability to be more flexible with our resource. And I'll give two examples here. One, we have like many large organizations, thousands of talented people that work in our contact centers across North America. And through this change, we took the opportunity to be able to create the technology that would enable those teams to work from home, as opposed to the contact center. That just gave us a tremendous amount of flexibility to serve clients around the clock literally while keeping our employees safe.

Cameron Fowler: And the same thing applied to our branches, where we made adjustments to our technology and enabled our branch teams, many of whom were working in support of branches that were closed also to take contact center calls to help customers who had questions or concerns. And so our capacity to support customers real-time actually radically increased during the early days of COVID, which was important.

Cameron Fowler: The next sort of innovation here I think Eric though, is for us all to translate this new digital openness that we have, whether it's curbside or healthcare, et cetera, to the way we think about financial services and for financial organizations to move away from digital as a channel through which we might sell or service certain products to a full operating model. Where we conceive of products and services that are actually designed for digital consumption and digital servicing.

Cameron Fowler: And that's I think a tremendous opportunity, whether it's in the self-service areas of retail or in other parts of financial services. I think really a tremendous opportunity because what that will really do is improve the experience and efficiency of course, but enabled us to invest more time in human advice, which as we travel into a more challenging economic backdrop is going to be more important than ever before.

Eric Boles: Oh Cam, your statement of going from a channel to an actual operating model, I actually coached an executive who was responsible for what is now a model at the time it was just a channel. And the pressure that they are now increasing within that organization, but you described it right there so well. I'm going to make sure I share that your insights with him. In terms of how this even influences innovation around retails. Erica, can you speak to that?

Erica Kuhlmann: Sure. I think when we look pre-COVID, many of us would look at the grocery store as a destination, a place to spend time, discover new brands and with COVID that all ended. So we were not hanging out in stores anymore. Retailers just as Cam said, it was all about digital, it was all about online, what the offering is. But I think the interesting part to that, the other piece to that is that it became very important for retailers to be focused on service.

Erica Kuhlmann: And so having that employee who is delivering the groceries to someone's car with curbside or delivering to someone's house, that person became the brand, became the brand ambassador for that retailer. And so it's just a really interesting dichotomy. On the one hand, it's not very personal with online, but yet the service piece was very important and that human interaction.

Eric Boles: Oh, thank you, Erica. I want to ask Dr. Whyte. This question's not a simple question, but that's why we have you here as an expert. The question is where are we now and what are or what is your estimation of what pandemic life will be for the next six to 12 months?

Dr John Whyte: Well, you know, Eric, I have a lot of books behind me, but I don't have a crystal ball, but I'll tell you what we know. And if you think about, remember it's called a novel coronavirus because it's new. There's a lot of things that we don't know and we're learning as we go. But I'll start up front in terms of, we have to move away from this idea of when do we return to normal as to how do we adjust in terms of what's going on? We had nothing in January when you think about it. Now we have multiple therapeutics that we're looking at Remdesivir, Dexamethazone, Monoclonal antibodies.

Dr John Whyte: Let's talk about the vaccine that's on everyone's mind. Here's a date to remember. October 22nd is a day that the FDA here in the United States is going to review some data. But even if a drug is approved shortly after that, a vaccine or authorized under emergency use, it's not going to change anything for you or me in the United States or in Canada, because it's going to be the first responders, those that are most at risk, the elderly, those with underlying conditions. A wide-scale vaccination program may not be available until the spring.

Dr John Whyte: So how are we going to continue to adjust? Back to that point that you liked of staying sane while staying safe, while continuing to try to have some sense of normalcy, build that COVID bubble that many of us have talked about, slowly expand your group. Talk about how do we manage risk in terms of opening schools and opening businesses while keeping people saved.

Dr John Whyte: So I think we're going to continue to iterate over the next few months, continue to open up in stages while closely monitoring the outbreaks in the community. So that's a lot of testing as Canada has been doing very well, the United States is catching up. And then a lot of tracing as well. Finding out who might have been exposed. That's how we're going to return to some sense of normal, control the infection in the community and then businesses in schools will continue to be able to reopen more. That's my prediction in terms of how we continue to move forward.

Eric Boles: Thank you, Dr. Whyte. We've made a lot of progress, but maintaining it and continuing that progress is where the work is, right? I mean, there's a tendency-

Dr John Whyte: And we had innovation. We should celebrate that in terms of multiple vaccine candidates, multiple therapeutics, multiple testing strategies. It's a story of success in many ways.

Eric Boles: Thank you, Dr. Whyte. This next question is going to be for you Erica. And that question is now that we've adjusted how we shop, how are retailers and restaurants planning on evolving the shopping experience and what will that mean to consumers?

Erica Kuhlmann: Sure. It is changing, but I think what continues to be key is really the consumer is just at the center of how manufacturers and retailers and, and restaurants are moving forward. As we talked about just with retailers, yes, online, I think what then what they are able to do with the data analytics coming out of their e-commerce, their platforms is really perhaps more personalized the offering and the experience for the online buyer.

Erica Kuhlmann: I think as well, when you looked at QSRs, quick serve restaurants. Before COVID, 60 to 70% of their business was drive-thru. And so they were able to quickly adapt to the new environment. However, now it's all about kind of investing in technology in order to move people through more quickly through those lines. And I think too, you're going to see other restaurant concepts who will be adopting, drive-thru will be essential in order to have that offering to make up for the lack of in-house, in restaurant dining.

Erica Kuhlmann: And speaking of restaurants, you all know they have been artists hit by all of this and we see them really being innovative with their menus, their pickup, their delivery as well. But we have winter coming on and it will really be a challenging environment as we try to move through that.

Eric Boles: Yeah. Thank you, Erica. Along that same line, I'm going to begin this question with you Cam and Erica will be coming to you with this one as well. But the question is where does banking delivery go from here? And what is the role of in-person interactions, whether on the branch side or the business side? And Cam, I'm asking you to answer that first.

Cameron Fowler: Thank you. I think it's important to start a response to a question like that with a reminder on why we're here, which is, we are all in the business of customer-client experience. So that's the starting point. And with a changing world, important to reassess how we meet customers they are, but that's the objective. I believe that the primary focus for organizations like ours needs to be continuing to drive towards the more digital operating models that we described earlier in the conversation, such that we have access to more and more convenient advice to help customers, regardless of the segment they're in. In our retail businesses, small business, wealth, business and commercial banking right up through capital markets.

Cameron Fowler: So that's the objective. Maximize the human interaction that is focused on advice. Minimize the human activity focused on servicing and other activities that could be done more efficiently via digital that's I think the equation we're looking to solve. Three main things in there, Eric, that we're focused on. Number one, the power of digital is convenience and reach. And I think confidence within that though, important to continually work towards ensuring that those customers that join us through digital channels see us to be their primary organization. And we have the depth of a relationship with them, such that we have the right to give the human advice.

Cameron Fowler: That's point number one, primacy through digital. Number two, continue to drive towards more convenient, digital servicing. It's easier for everybody. And then number three is probably the hardest part and that is as the world is changing so is the technology that serves the world and many organizations like ours that have been around, we've been around for 203 years. We know what we're doing and we need to move with the times. And the magnitude of the shift in the capability, cost and security of available technology to drive new models is profound. And we need to continue to push to ensure that the move towards digital operating models goes right through the stack of the organization so that we can go back to objective number one, which is more human capacity to give advice.

Eric Boles: Not only am I inspired and encouraged by those three points. And I like the cyclical nature of those three points by the way, but I am very impressed in organizations right now who are at the size and scope that you all are, yet the speed and agility you're making this transition. I mean, that is not only to be commended, but hopefully studied well enough so that same practice continues on. In my personal opinion, I don't see that changing. I just feel like the speed of it is going to be continuous. Thank you so much for that, Cam. Can you speak to that as well, Erica, about the whole shopping and banking experience?

Erica Kuhlmann: Sure, sure. So certainly as I spoke about What retailers are doing, as far as investing in online, it is I think elevating their team members to be the brand, to be their brand as we spoke to be their brand ambassador. And that is the interaction that many people will have when they're doing curbside or when they're doing pickup or delivery. So how that person is that is the interaction with the retailer and how that a consumer will relate.

Erica Kuhlmann: The other interesting phenomenon we're starting to see is really manufacturers trying to reach out direct-to-consumer to develop that relationship with their brand, with their company. I was just visiting with a CEO this morning and they have a new product that's coming out and it was all about using e-commerce pushing out to develop that relationship with the consumer. So although that may not be an in-person interaction, it is building and developing a relationship that I think is very different how food manufacturers looked at selling before.

Eric Boles: Thank you for that, Erica. One of the first statements and you referenced it several times, who we view as the brand is many times the individual we're now having to engage with. And every time you said that, that's just a great reminder. I'm actually working with a client now and unfortunately for them, no matter how much marketing and how great their commercials are, the individual interactions aren't matching that.

Eric Boles: And so they're really placing a focus there. So thanks for sharing that. Dr. Whyte, I'm going to come to you now in reference from a medical perspective. And that question is how are people going to get medical care outside of COVID as this pandemic continues and beyond?

Dr John Whyte: Mainly the same principles that Erica and Cam talked about, how we're really changing the dynamics of healthcare, which isn't the same type of market as the retail may be in terms of demand. But what we're seeing is we're finally are going to have patient centricity where the patient's in charge and the focus is on the patient as opposed to the medical community. So we have telehealth and telemedicine. So I loved Cam's point about digital. Why then do I have to go in to an office when you literally can bring care to me?

Dr John Whyte: And I can see anyone around the country or around the world depending on my needs. And that's a big change, but it's much more than wearables. I mean, it's much more than telemedicine. It's the use of wearables and sensors and trackers and remote patient monitoring and doing chemotherapy in your living room, as opposed to going into the doctor's office.

Dr John Whyte: Of course, we're still going to have to go in to have procedures, but COVID one silver lining to be honest is the acceleration and the adoption of technologies that are going to improve patient care. And that's one exciting element of what we're going to see in a post-COVID world, in terms of healthcare. We're never going to go back to why should I sit in a waiting room for 20 minutes after driving 20 minutes? And I'm being generous in terms of the time when it's the same thing with shopping, I can order everything online, go to the grocery store and have them put it in.

Dr John Whyte: So it's going to be about meeting the patient's needs and we refer sometimes to patients as consumers. And we're going to talk more about that in the future.

Eric Boles: Oh, thank you so much, Dr. Whyte. There's so much that you just got through to describing that our family is experiencing. My daughter has an autoimmune and the way that she's now dealing with her rheumatologists, how she's dealing with her other doctor, everything is so digitized and it's happening virtually. And it's been so convenient that it's normalizing it. Where, why would we do it differently? Unless there's a serious operation so.

Eric Boles: No, what a great insight. This last question is for all of you. Okay? And I'm going to begin with Cam when I start it, but here's the question. Great closing question. It's not likely that even a so-called returned to normal will look like how we were living in 2019. So how would you summarize what normal will look like? So I'll begin with you Cam.

Cameron Fowler: Thank you, Eric. I agree with you that there's not that much point in focusing on a return to something. I agree with points that were made earlier that are more focused on adaptation, preparation, resilience, et cetera. Because through this topic and other topics, our world is going to be changing and changing quickly in [inaudible 00:26:24] way and we should be prepared for that.

Cameron Fowler: I think the response to that from our organization from I think from a professional perspective, needs to be to make permanent the games that we've been able to achieve during the last six months. And by that, I mean, let's stay focused on the speed with which we're making decisions, the efficiency with which we're operating, the focus we have on our customers and the way that their needs are changing, the safety and security of our employees.

Cameron Fowler: And while we're at it, let's take advantage of the opportunity of this COVID license to create the simpler, faster, more streamlined organization that we've aspired to. On the personal side for our teams and for ourselves, I think on this line and beyond, I suspect that we're going to find ourselves focusing on fewer things. More of those things are going to be the ones that maybe matter a little more, family, friends, happiness. And surely that's a good thing.

Cameron Fowler: I think that's one thing that I have on my mind. Another is trust. In an industry like mine, ours, in an industry like yours Dr Whyte, there will be some things that endure through all of this. The power of trust will probably be chief among them. And so I think it's important that we keep that in mind.

Eric Boles: Wow. Great point, Cam. It really resonated when you were talking about from a personal standpoint. During this pandemic, one thing I have learned is that very few things actually matter, but those few things matter a whole lot. And actually there's been nearly help kind of discover what those are. So thanks so much. Erica, how about-

Erica Kuhlmann: So it's interesting. I heard the new normal phrase referred to as the now normal. So this is now normal how we are operating. And I agree with Cam and what we've learned, we all read about and certainly our clients experience these really challenges in the supply chain to deliver food and product to retailers and to consumers. And it really backed up all the way to the farm, to the farm gate. So I think we need to be and certainly in the food business, it will be all about agility. It will be about creating, I think, some slack and flexibility in the supply chain.

Erica Kuhlmann: And certainly the investing in new technology and being able to leverage that and our relationship. I think we have all found that through this whole period of time, our relationships however we are building those through, Zoom meetings or through phone conversations rather than texting. It's the same for manufacturers. And food is at the center of who we are and how we celebrate its families and friends. And so it is about relationship.

Eric Boles: You know Erica, when you just said food is at the heart of it, my wife told me the other day and I didn't realize it how frequently we now eat together. And I didn't realize how often we weren't until this pandemic. So finding the great opportunities that can come out of this difficulty we've all been through is significant. Dr. Whyte, closing with you. So talk to us about this new normal or now normal as Erica describes it.

Dr John Whyte: You give me the hard part and I've noticed about those meals, which have been very nice to be able to do. But really to echo everything that Cam and Erica has said. The other elements that I'd highlight, Eric are flexibility. So I have a seven-year-old and those of you that have young kids or had young kids, there's a lot of whys. Why do I have to do this? Why do I have to do that? I think that's what we're going to see in the new normal in the sense of why do you have to go into the office if you can do your job efficiently at home? As I pointed out, why do you have to go into the doctor's office? If it doesn't require a physical, or even if it does, I can do some of those remotely?

Dr John Whyte: Why do you have to travel to close a deal if it's really not necessary? We're going to have to look into those more and that can be a good thing. And the other element is resilience. And that's what I'm very hopeful for and also positive about. Industries can be resilient and change, and there's going to be an acceleration of change. But then on a personal level, in terms of what you talked about, we're going to have to figure out what really matters. And we're going to have to start spending more time taking care of ourselves.

Dr John Whyte: That's what we're seeing as I opened up with that we're having a mental health pandemic. So we have to acknowledge our feelings. We have to let people know it's okay to be anxious and scared during these times of uncertainty. But how do we plot a path forward together and be resilient and try to have a very positive perspective? How can we improve post-COVID? And change in many ways those things that are going to help improve our lives personally, professionally, financially.

Eric Boles: Dr. Whyte, thank you so much. I just want to say in closing, I want to thank all of our three experts, Dr. John Whyte, Cam Fowler, Erica Kuhlmann. For not only for your expertise, but for helping everybody listening right now, not only survive these times, but figure out a way to thrive through them. And the things that you all shared with us today has so helped with that.

Eric Boles: So I want to thank everyone who's watching. I want to in closing also remind everybody not to forget or let me change that. Remember to join us on October 21st at 12 o'clock Eastern, 11 o'clock Central for our LinkedIn live event, where we will discuss how 2020 will change a generation. Again to our experts, thank you so much for joining me today.

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