By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me at home … and not just at home physically but also mentally. After weeks of change and evolution and re-adjusting, this new normal of digital leadership finally feels like home.

Walt Disney once said, “You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing for you.”

And while a global pandemic is hardly just a kick in the teeth, the by-product of the COVID-19 crisis has been a fundamental shift in our entire world, toward greater community, toward greater mindfulness, toward greater connection and toward greater hope.

Here are several ways society has positively shifted, even as obstacles remain:

Stronger emphasis on family. As leaders, the balance between work and life always stands front and center in our business philosophy but today, the emphasis on family has strengthened to exponential degrees. Whether it’s helping our parents get groceries or guiding our children through their virtual math lessons, family is everything – just as it should be.

Powerful ties to our community. While at home, our neighborhoods – the restaurants, the business owners, the friends – are our entire world. We exist within the framework of a socially distanced walk to the park or a masked pick-up of dinner from the local deli. Just as we support our community, our community supports those in need. The countless stories of homemade mask-making initiatives and elderly care are just as prevalent as this virus’ spread.

Digital delivery is a premium. While it might have been true that taking a pasta-making class at the local Italian eatery was ideal, we’re quickly discovering that real and potent experiences can be delivered from the expanse of our cell phone screens. In fact, a good friend and top-producing agent at Intero, Dominic Nicoli, told me about how he downloaded MasterClass and has been cooking alongside the culinary greats (virtually of course), with his daughter. With the quick turn to all things digital came the recognition that we can expand our knowledge even from the comfort of home. And we can also grow in physical strength …

Exercise is not contained to the gym. Whereas a weights circuit or set time spent on a treadmill defined our early mornings or late nights, now we’ve quickly learned that the world is our gym. We can take hikes in the empty but great outdoors. We can learn from the most learned yogis right in our living room.

Specifics over speculation. Information is critical to our survival and accurate information must inform our decision-making at every turn. We’ve shifted back to relying on true experts and the facts they provide, instead of lofty guesswork or easy assumptions. Although I have to admit, I still haven’t been able to figure out why I can go to Home Depot or Lowes every day, tromping up and down the aisles, but I still can’t go inside my local Starbucks to get a cup of coffee.

Any industry can be digital. By force, every single industry had to turn to digital solutions to create business continuity and ultimately, success. In real estate, we learned transactions can be 100% digital, as can open houses and virtual tours. But even older and digital-resistant industries have become reliant on virtual tools and systems to keep business afloat.

So, what’s the message? COVID-19 has created an incredible dichotomy that now unites us all. On the one hand, we’re technologically savvier, discovering the immense latent potential digital solutions can really hold. On the other hand, we’ve adopted a back-to-basics approach to our everyday existence, slowing down, appreciating the small moments, and savoring quality (albeit virtual) time with our family and friends. We’re cooking more, exercising more and enjoying more. In many ways, our lives now are fuller than they’ve ever been, in all ways, we’ve discovered a new meaning for home.


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