You Can’t Control the Uncontrollable

You Can’t Control the Uncontrollable |


This year the Expo West hangover is very different than in past years. The week after is usually one where deep breaths are taken, a few high-fives exchanged, and a ton of follow up work is completed. This year we find ourselves back in our offices thinking about what just happened or didn’t and what comes next.

Many of us are scared, afraid of the virus itself, or at the very least, the impact fear will have on the economy and on our brands. I’ve been spending a lot of time listening to the concerns of founders since the announcement of the postponement.

I can’t offer any words that might ease your worries. We are confronting a world full of even more unknowns than usual. To go forward as if none of this is occurring is unwise, but so too, is retreating, allowing fear to grip you in its fierceness paralyzing you.

As entrepreneurs, we signed up for the uncontrollable. We relish our foray into the unknown. This is no different. It is the same turbulent water, maybe a little murkier than we are accustomed to but, similar, nonetheless.

The ground under our feet is likely to shift. It may feel even more unstable then it does on most days. It’s okay, we were built for these moments as chaos is our friend. Entrepreneurs thrive during periods of unease and unpredictability. The thing that feels weird is that we are comfortable being the disruptors, not the disrupted.

Other shows will be postponed, meetings will be canceled, and dire warnings about the impact on human and economic health will be omnipresent. It’s okay, we can’t control the uncontrollable. There is only one thing we can do in these times, and that is to move forward.

As Gary Hirshberg would say, entrepreneurs are “pathological optimists”. We still believe when others have long since become doubters, cynics. Not us, we know it will all work out.

That is what we need to do right now, lean into our pathological optimism. Travel may slow, consumer spending could decline. Yet, people will be more attuned to their health than ever before. What they eat, drink, put on their skin, take as supplements, or even feed their pets will all be approached with heightened awareness and commitment. Guess what, as a capitalist with at least one moral fiber, smells a lot like an upside to me.

You can choose to dwell on what was lost in the postponement of Expo West or a canceled buyer meeting. That, however, won’t serve you well. What will help is finding the opportunity amidst all this chaos. It is right there in front of you. The disruptors, innovators, and creators are in a prime position. Where most see stagnation, you see opportunity.

Let me be clear. By no means am I encouraging you to prey upon fear, quite the opposite, I am admonishing you not to give in to yours while pushing you to be the voice of reason and calm. Figure out what role your brand and products can play in helping people navigate these troubled waters. Do the only thing we can do, move forward.

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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 ›