Don’t Let a Crisis Go to Waste

Don’t Let a Crisis Go to Waste

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Before I go any further, I want to let you know that this article is more personal than most of my posts. I struggled with how best to construct this message. I worried that it would seem self-aggrandizing or self-absorbed. After mulling it over for a long time, I realized that all of you who read my stuff know me well enough that I can safely set that concern aside. I hope that this article spawns some productive self-reflection and stimulates some great conversations.

A year ago, when we went on lockdown, a friend said something to me that at first seemed innocuous. He said, “Don’t let a crisis go to waste.” That has stuck with me this entire year. There has been so much suffering and loss, disruption and change that we’ve all faced. I felt that not using this crisis to question how I was showing up in the world would dishonor all of those who have been impacted by this terrible virus.

Long ago, I learned that to be generous you must first be selfish. In other words, you have to start by getting your shit together. So, I started right here with me. I realized that I had been using my business and my busyness to excuse putting my health on the back burner. A bit of TMI, but I’ve always had a tricky relationship with food and weight. I decided to do what I do best, consume, instead of food, information. I developed a voracious appetite for nutritional science and the psychology of food. If I was going to make a change, I wanted it to be a lifelong one. After months of research and a ton of deep reflection, I changed my diet, exercise, sleep, and mindset. I am glad to report that a year into COVID, I am more than 45 pounds lighter than I was at the start. My resting heart rate is 45, and I feel great!

When COVID did strike recently, I was so thankful it met me on this side of the lockdown when I had shed some of the co-morbidities that might have put me at risk.

The next area I wanted to understand better was our climate crisis. I’ve always considered myself environmentally aware, but if I am honest, I think it was just enough awareness and involvement to assuage any guilt. I wanted to learn more. So, I started to consume. I’ve read about regenerative agriculture, CAFOs, and more. One cool thing was to find the adjustments I’ve made over the past few years around my diet and, more precisely, since COVID have ensured that I am doing less harm to the planet and all the creatures living on it.

The next item on my “don’t let a crisis go to waste” list was social justice. After the killing of George Floyd, I knew I had to learn more and understand the role I unknowingly played in perpetuating systemic racism. This led to some books that made me feel uncomfortable and some honest conversations that made me feel even more so. I have much left to learn, but I think I understand things a bit better. I’ve also figured out how to navigate these conversations and welcome the opportunity to have them as often as I can.

I can’t forget business. At the risk of sounding a bit woo-woo, I measure success by the impact I make at this stage of my career. When COVID tipped the world on its axis, I wanted to be there to serve, to lend a steady hand. This is the part where I worried that I’d sound self-serving, but I am proud of what we’ve done. We launched a podcast (TIG Talks) to provide founders with actionable information in a format where their questions guide the conversation. We introduced our eTardigrade Incubator, our hybrid e-learning program, to help early-stage entrepreneurs navigate this industry’s challenges. A group of us in the industry came together to collaborate, share, and support each other. Most importantly, I’ve had the profound honor of being alongside many who have done a fantastic job adapting and have shown so much resilience.

This year has been challenging, scary, and sad in so many ways. At least, I can honestly say that I did not let this crisis go to waste. Well, I hope I didn’t. I would really like this article to be a start of a deeper conversation. I would love to hear how you have used this time. Please share, and thanks for reading.

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Author: Elliot Begoun

Elliot Begoun is the Principal of The Intertwine Group, a practice focused on accelerating the growth of emerging food and beverage brands. He helps clients gain distribution and win… View full profile ›

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