Wartime CEO

When I first started developing Shanah, it was February. Perhaps just a few weeks — even days — before the virus spread fully out of China and put the whole world on lockdown.

I haven’t mentioned COVID before this post, primarily because a) all these posts were scheduled months in advance, and b) I don’t think I’m really in the position to give real feedback on what is happening. I still don’t think I’m in that position. Yet at this point things have grown to such an extent that I figure I might as well write down some thoughts.

Back in 2011, Ben Horowitz made an article called Peacetime CEO/Wartime CEO. It’s been making the rounds again recently, for reasons that should be obvious. I’ve always thought of myself, in a way, as a Wartime CEO. Not because I particularly think I perform better during the “war”, but rather because I think that the “war” is when you learn the most about the process as a whole. So when I see my timeline for launching a startup and publishing a book come into direct conflict with a global pandemic, I’m not particularly worried. In fact, I’m a bit excited. 

There are other things that worry me, no doubt. I’m sure that being locked in at home has done something not-so-good for my mental state. Schoolwork seems to be an agitation more than ever. I’m more interested than ever with getting it all over with so I can focus on the “real work”. And while perhaps COVID certainly accelerated these factors, I think this conclusion would have happened either way.

I am in the striking belief that these coming months will mark a major pivot moment for my life. I’m in the striking belief that it will mark a major pivot moment in all our lives. The question will ultimately become who was able to make the most out of the global tragedy.

There is an ironic twist to this being a global tragedy. The twist is that everyone, everywhere, is getting screwed. So you get laid off, or your grades slump, it will be pretty easy to say in the future “Oh, this was from the COVID thing” and have people instantly understand. Don’t use this as an excuse to get lazy, though. Use this as an excuse to focus on what truly matters. 

I am not going to sit back and pretend I know what will happen in six months. I don’t even know what will happen tomorrow. All I can do is give the same advice I intend to follow, and so that is what I do now.

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