Our Future Begins Today

Our Future Begins Today

I’ve always loved the month of April. It’s not surprising that “april” comes from the Latin word aperire1, meaning “to open.” In the Northern Hemisphere, it’s the month when trees and flowers begin to open. Not only does the sun shine more brightly, but everything comes into bloom, with the promise of more to come.

This year, most of us feel as though we’re coming out of hibernation. I’ve spoken with so many people who haven’t ventured beyond their own homes in months.

In today’s New York Times, David Brooks wonders “how a year-plus of social distancing has changed our personalities,” — the side effects of “this Groundhog Day life” that we’ve been experiencing throughout the past year. “I’ve learned this year how much having a feeling of purpose depends on the small acts of hospitality we give and receive each day, sometimes with people we don’t know all that well.”

And he continues, “People who have endured an era of vulnerability emerge with great strength. I’m also convinced that the second half of this year is going to be more fantastic than we can imagine right now.”

Our future begins today — for ourselves and our families and organizations. A new era is unfolding, with significantly more focus on health and wellness, fairness and equity, and sustainability. There’s a new playing field, with new rules. We’re the ones who will make the difference, but we need to look at “strength” differently.

I have great admiration for Rita McGrath, Professor of Strategy at Columbia University and author of Seeing Around Corners. I don’t remember how I heard about her Friday Fireside Chats, but I attended my first one on 8 May 2020, and I was hooked. Each session is an hour of new ideas for a world of possibilities — the perfect antidote for covid-induced claustrophobia.

In her Chat2 today, Professor McGrath had a fascinating conversation with Charles Trevail, Global CEO of Interbrand Group of Companies, with much of the conversation focused on brands and culture. He noted that companies are making smaller moves to retain relevance in a field where relevance and responsiveness are critical. Other firms are making “iconic” moves to “stay ahead of shifting expectations and create category-defining results.” (Mr. Trevail’s example: Morgan Stanley committing $30 billion over five years for social and racial causes.) As he explained, brands today are built through action, behavior, and culture; and culture plays a critical part in relevance and engagement/interaction. “Winners” are innovating with their customers — as geographic boundaries have disappeared, companies are moving closer to their clients/customers and have become more agile, with faster response.

How will all of this affect who you are, what you do, and how you do it? Are you ready to welcome your future — beginning today?

Thank you for reading. Happy April, and welcome to our brave new world.

* * *

1 We also see aperire in words like aperitif and aperture.

2 Friday Fireside Chat recordings are available on the Rita Gunther McGrath YouTube Channel, usually the week following the event.

Executive Education:

Learn more about Professor McGrath’s Strategy in Uncertain Times virtual program offered by Columbia Business School Executive Education, April 19–23 from 11am to 3:30pm EDT.

More ideas on this topic, from our Anthology:


Photo by Євгенія Височина on Unsplash

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