Category: Crisis

Jun 1 2020

You are Not Alone

On Wednesday 6/3 at 11am Energize Colorado will be launching our Mental Wellness initiative.

While we already have a Mental Health Resource section up on the Energize Colorado, we are starting a weekly webinar series called Wellness Wednesdays.

One of our goals with this initiative is to destigmatize mental health and support those in need of engaging in service during the Covid crisis. I’ve been talking about mental health as the third part of the Covid crisis since the end of March when I wrote the post The Three Crises.

I didn’t anticipate structural racism being a fourth crisis. But here we are.

Yesterday, a friend suggested that a middle-aged white person trying to constructively engage around structural racism feels like walking across lava. It’s dangerous and there are lots of ways that you can say or do something that goes very wrong, even if that wasn’t intended.

I’m aware of that, so rather than tell anyone what the solution is, I’m just going to engage, in the same way I’ve engaged with other issues like gender discrimination. Listen, learn, and do things in support of other leaders who are already involved. For example, in the case of gender, I began my journey in 2005 by supporting and learning from leaders like Lucy Sanders.

This morning, I’ve reached out to several black entrepreneurial leaders I know, including Rodney Sampson. My question to him is not “what should I do” but rather “what are you doing that I can get involved in and support right now.”

So, now we’ve got four crisis. Health. Economic. Mental Health. Structural Racism.

If you are involved in one of these, know that you are not alone.

And, if the mental health crisis is on your mind right now, join us Wednesday for our discussion on our the You are Not Alone webinar.

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May 31 2020

Don’t Burn Down Your Own House

Dave Mayer pointed me at this video today. After struggling with how I was feeling all morning, during my run, and while I read the Sunday New York Times, this finally helped me put a framework around my feelings.

I’m angry. I’m sad. I’m confused. I’m appalled. I’m scared. I’m upset. And this is completely independent (and on top of) of all the challenges around the Covid crisis.

Seth wrote a great post on Wednesday titled Uncertainty.

Uncertainty provokes a kind of “fight or flight” response in the human brain. As we try to escape the idea of uncertainty, we analyze a situation in an attempt to make ourselves feel better. In other words, we worry in order to eliminate uncertainty and reassure ourselves. Frequent worry can lead to anxiety or depression and some individuals are more susceptible to it than others. 

The amount of uncertainty, on all dimensions of our lives in America right now, are at an extreme high. And, then, on top of that, another white cop murders another black man, and our president once against behaves in a way that divides rather than unites.

I woke up to Gotham Gal’s post This Picture Says It All.

I’m lucky – I’m a middle-aged white guy with lots of resources. I’m stretched on a lot of dimensions on ways I’m trying to be helpful to others, but systemic racism is another category that I can’t, and don’t want to, be passive engaged with anymore.

As with my efforts on eliminating sexism and gender discrimination, I realize that I need to learn and participate as an advocate, rather than show up as “hi, I’m a white guy here to solve the problem.” So, I’m starting right now to understand systemic racism in America better and try to get involved in a constructive way to help eliminate it.

The punchline to Joanne Wilson’s post is “When this pandemic is over, we need to find a new path to leadership and a country that cares about all of us. We are a democracy, not a regime.”

I only have one minor modification – we can’t wait for the pandemic to be over.

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May 15 2020

Reopening Your Business In Colorado

Energize Colorado, working with Colorado’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT), has just released business templates that offer best practices, direction, and information on how businesses can restart operations safely and effectively.

These templates are based on OEDIT’s recommendations along with input from Kroger who has been a leader in evolving better practices as an essential business.

Next week, WorkBright and Energize Colorado are doing a four-part webinar series on Reopening Your Business.

  • Part One: Let’s Keep COVID-19 Out of Your Workplace: Best practices in screening your workers and customers and how they need to be balanced with privacy and HIPAA concerns.
  • Part Two: Let’s Not Pass it Along: Learn the underlying principles of social distancing to support creation of specific guidelines for your business and industry.
  • Part Three: Let’s Plan for When it Does Happen: COVID-19 will come to virtually every business. Learn how to limit the impact and spread through your workforce.
  • Part Four: Let’s Care for Our People: Special programs to check in frequently with workers and tools to respond to what you learn.

As businesses start opening up in Colorado, we are entering a very tricky phase of the Covid crisis. I appreciate the work that the 200+ volunteers at Energize Colorado are doing to help the companies with less than 500 employees navigate things.

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May 12 2020

What Day Is It?

Amy just walked in to our shared office (the “Library”) and said something about it being Tuesday.

It’s gloomy in Colorado today. For the past few years, the month of May has been more like Seattle weather than Colorado weather, so while spring is transitioning into summer, heavy clouds hang over us.

I seem to have two types of days right now.

Type 1 is what happens between Monday morning and Friday afternoon. Zoom call after Zoom call. Lots of exogenous stress and anxiety. By the end of each of these days, it’s hard to shrug it off as I’m absorbing so much from other people as I try to help them navigate through whatever they are working on or struggling with. There are momentary bright spots, smiles, and statements of appreciation, but they are fleeting as the 1 Minute To Next Call message appears at the top of the screen. At the end of the day, I try to run, but only feel like it a few days a week. Amy and I finish the day staring at the TV for an hour or two and then go to sleep.

Type 2 is the weekend. I stop doing meetings and email Friday night. I use Saturday to rest, recover, read, nap, and hang out with Amy. Sunday is similar, but I catch up on email, and read a bunch more.

I love to read but the only days I seem to have the energy to read are Type 2 days.

I’m going to finish out this week this way and then take a week off the grid and try to reset. As I expect we are in for a very long haul of stress and misery around the Covid crisis, it’s clear to me that Type 1 / Type 2 is not going to be a sustainable rhythm for me.

While I don’t know where I’ll land, I do know that the mental health crisis I talked about in my post The Three Crises is real. I see it and hear about it everywhere. I feel it. And I know how lucky and privileged I am, so I can only imagine how intense, pervasive, and challenging it is for others.

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May 11 2020

Supporting the $1K Project

A month ago, Alex Iskold emailed me about a new initiative that he started with Minda Brusse and a group of 20 volunteers called the $1K Project.

The mission of the $1K Project is to help families impacted by the pandemic by connecting them directly with sponsors who are willing to gift them $1k a month for three months. This is intended as a bridge until government funding shows up, people can get back to work, or figure out another source of funding.

I committed to fund five families on the spot for three months. I just fulfilled my second set of committments to these families.

Alex told me that part of his motivation is that with all the different ways there are to gift money, families everywhere are hurting and are unable to provide food, basic necessities, rent, and utilities. Unless you know someone, it’s very hard to directly support another family you don’t know.

The magic of the $1k Project is using trusted connections to trace back to people known to the founders and other people connected to the $1k Project. Families get referred to us through friends, families, and through their former employers who are pained by having to let the employees go.

Think of it for a chain letter in CovidWorld.

If you are an employer you can nominate someone you laid off due to Covid. Alternatively, you can nominate a friend, a family member, a business owner, or someone else you know who lost their job to Covid.

In the last 30 days, over $500,000 has been given directly to families in need. Each has a story. Each has a need.

Alex and team – awesome job.

For the readers out there, if you are inspired to make a difference directly in a family’s life and you can afford $1k / month for three months, give the $1k Project a shot and sign up to be a sponsor.

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May 10 2020

Celebrate Governor Polis’s Birthday With Me

On May 14th at 5:30pm, a group of us are going to have a virtual birthday party for Colorado Governor Jared Polis. I’m co-chairing the party with my wife Amy Batchelor, my partner Seth Levine, his wife Greeley Sachs, and our friends Mo and Jennifer Siegel. Congressman Joe Neguse is joining as a special birthday guest as his birthday is the next day.

Jared always does a fundraiser on his birthday. This year, it’s for the Colorado COVID Relief Fund.

I’m on the executive committee for the fund and Amy is on the grants committee. Our gift was one of the first to the fund (I was part of the launch discussion and committed on the first committee call along with Kent Thiry and Denise O’Leary.) So far we have raised $16.5 million and have given grants of $8.4 million to those in Colorado in the most need. Our goal is to raise at least $20 million and deploy all of the money by the end of June. Over 8,000 individual donors have contributed along with organizations listed at the end of this post.

So, please join us for Jared’s birthday (yup – it’ll be by video conference.)

It’s a tough time for everyone, but I’m especially proud to be a Coloradan right now as we work together to help each other.


Some of the organizations that have contributed so far: Anchor Point, AT&T, Baird Foundation, Bank of America, Bender West Foundation, Boettcher Foundation, Bohemian Foundation, BPx Energy, Buell Foundation, Caring for Colorado Foundation, Chambers Fund, Charles Schwab Foundation, Christy Sports, Cigna, Colorado Garden Show INC, Colorado Rockies Baseball Club Foundation, Comcast NBCUniversal, Community First Foundation, Community Foundation Boulder County, Cranaleith Foundation Inc, Daniels Fund, David Altman Foundation, Deloitte, Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation, Denver Broncos, El Pomar, Elana Amsterdam & Rob Katz, Empower Retirement, ENT Credit Union, First Bank, Gates Family Foundation, Gill Foundation, Good Chemistry Nurseries, Google, Greater Salina Community Foundation, Grogan Family Fund, HCA Healthcare, Hearst Foundation, Hemera Foundation, HomeAdvisor, John Elway, Ken and Rebecca Gart, Key Bank Foundation, Liberty Global, Liberty Media, Lockheed Martin, Madroño Foundation, MDC/ Richmond American Homes Foundation, Mile High United Way, Morgridge Family Foundation, Newmont, Norm & Sunny Brownstein and Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Pat Broe, Patlaw Fund, Peyton and Ashley Manning, PhRMA, Pinnacol Assurance, PNC, R. Stanton Dodge, Rose Community Foundation, Santander Consumer USA Inc Foundation, Suncor, Target, Telluride Foundation, Terrapin Care Station, The Anschutz Foundation, The Colorado Health Foundation, The Colorado Trust, The DaVita Village, The Denver Foundation, The Moes, The Seedworks Fund, Thiry-O’Leary Foundation, Tom Marsico, TriState Generation & Transmission Association, Twilio, VF & The VF Foundation, Walmart, Wells Fargo Foundation, Western Union, Wynne Health Group, and Xcel Energy.

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May 1 2020

Launching Energize Colorado

I’m excited to announce the launch of Energize Colorado, a new Colorado-based non-profit to help energize companies in Colorado survive the Covid crisis and then thrive as we get the crisis under control.

A month ago (which seems like a year ago), I wrote a post explaining that the Covid crisis was actually three interwoven crises: health, financial, and mental health. As I went deeper through my work on various aspects of the Covid crisis on a volunteer basis across a number of initiatives, I began forming a clear view on the importance of the private sector taking a leadership role in helping the private sector.

I was fortunate that several of people who I started working with, including Wendy Lea, Erik Mitisek, and Marc Nager, were highly motivated by the mantra “Coloradans helping Coloradans.” The group rapidly expanded through both my network and theirs and quickly shifted to a mode of actively doing things, as volunteers on the private sector side, to actively support local businesses, entrepreneurs, rural businesses, women & minority-led businesses, non-profits, and contingent workers.

On March 23rd, a founding team of 15 people, led by Wendy Lea, got together to sketch out the idea for a new Colorado non-profit called Energize Colorado. The simple notion was to rally a large group of volunteers across the state who would donate their time and talent to help Colorado businesses under 500 employees stabilize, rebuild, and grow.

Amy and I have seed-funded many non-profits and are happy to include Energize Colorado in the list of things that we were the first funders for. Five weeks later, Energize Colorado is over 200 volunteers and growing daily.

In addition to creating new initiatives, Energize Colorado is focused on amplifying many of the activities happening throughout Colorado to help small businesses. Rather than duplicate efforts, Energize Colorado is adding to the mix, amplifying things that other non-profits are doing, highlighting new initiatives, and helping business people understand and navigate the many new initiatives from our State and Federal government.

The various categories of activities and information are currently organized as:

There will be at least two major new initiatives launched next week, with a steady stream after that. Follow along by subscribing to the newsletter or following the Energize Colorado twitter feed.

If you want to get involved and help in any way, please sign up on the volunteer form.

I’m proud to be a Coloradan helping other Coloradans in this crisis.

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Apr 29 2020

Times Like These

‘Nuff said.

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Apr 27 2020

The Disorientation of Exiting Phase 1

We are starting to exit phase 1 of the Covid Crisis in the United States. If you find the whole thing extremely disorienting, you have my empathy.

In mid-April, I was getting used to the Stay at Home mode. I’d joke about how I was made for this and was never leaving my house again.

Last weekend I took a digital sabbath and woke up feeling energized on Monday. By Wednesday there was talk everywhere about opening things back up in various parts of the country. I struggled with this based on what I knew and was relieved when, at least in Colorado, I realized that it wasn’t really opening things up but rather relaxing some of the constraints that existed.

But the narrative is complicated. It’s made worse by the contrast of getting used to the existing Stay at Home mode with the uncertainty around relaxing some of the constraints. For me, this was made amplified by the intense pressure in some of the discussions I had, as many people were scared, frustrated, confused, anxious, and uncertain.

I was exhausted Thursday at the end of the day and went to bed at 6:30pm. I slept soundly until 7:00am Friday morning. I didn’t really feel any better when I woke up. As I meditated, I realized I was anxious about a cough I had, and even though it was probably springtime allergies, my brain kept going to Covid. My back was hurting again, which was probably a result of sitting in front of my computer or in my Zoom room for 12 hours a day. My brain was tired from the week, but as I meditated, I kept coming back to feelings of fear and discomfort.

I focused on work throughout the day and planned to take a digital sabbath on Saturday. When I woke up Saturday morning, I saw two meetings had appeared on my calendar. It was a beautiful day, but I decided to work. As Amy slept, I did the dishes, started my laundry from the week, and worked through what felt like an infinite pile of email.

At dinner time, Amy looked at me and told me I needed to take a break. She was unyielding and correct. We talked some and I started to realize that I was scared about the shift away from Stay at Home. All of my underlying frustration was really fear. The more we talked, the more I realized how disoriented I was feeling. While I was relieved that Denver County and Boulder County had extended the Stay at Home order until May 8th, I was agitated that Weld County had not, and I was complaining about Californian’s on the beach ignoring the social distancing requirements.

Amy told me I was taking Sunday off.

I took my digital sabbath on Sunday. I meditated in the hot tub and listened to the birds. I read. I called my mom and caught up. I took a long afternoon nap. I did my weekly Zoom social call with Will, Warren, and Dave. I watched the Series Finale of Homeland. I went to bed early.

I woke up this morning realizing that the anxiety I felt building up last week was simply disorientation related to fatigue, fear, and uncertainty around change. While I try to deny and power through this, I recognize that I’m in a much better, or more privileged, or safer, or pick whatever phrase you want that signifies “easier” position to deal with this situation than many. But the weight of it still, well, weighs on me.

As the birds start waking up this morning, and the sky starts to lighten, I choose to embrace a new day. And simply begin again.

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Apr 23 2020

Names Matter: Exposure Alerting vs. Digital Contact Tracing

Most people, unless you work either for government or an infectious disease “organization” (non-profit, hospital, health care system) probably had not heard the phrase “contact tracing” until a month or so ago.

I now hear and see the phrase “contact tracing” everywhere.

About a month ago, as I started working on Covid-related stuff, the phrase came up regularly on the private side as a partial solution to the problem of “opening things back up.” It was often phrased as “it will be hard to open anything up until we have enough testing and contact tracing.”

For about a week, I couldn’t figure out why many of the people I was interacting with seemed to dismiss my ideas and concerns about contact tracing. Then, in a conversation, someone in government explained what the government’s historical view of contact tracing was, which is a well-defined and regularly executed completely manual process.

A giant lightbulb went off in my brain as I realized two things were happening. A bunch of people who were hearing the phrase “contact tracing” figured “yup – we’ve got that under control” (meaning they already had a manual contact tracing effort in place or about to be launched). The rest were thinking “the tech people want to automate and digitize the manual contact tracing activity – that’ll never work and it’ll create huge security and data privacy issues.”

So, I, along with everyone I am working with, started calling it “Digital Contact Tracing.” That helped some, especially as we described its relationship to Manual Contact Tracing. But, there was still too much explanation of Manual Contact Tracing vs. Digital Contact Tracing. And, confused continued to abound.

The phrase “Digital Contact Tracing” started evolving. The ACLU wrote a great white paper titled Principles for Technology-Assisted-Contact-Tracing which generated a clever acronym (TACT). I also saw the phrase “Digital Contact Tracing and Alerting” being used.

Yesterday, Harper Reed put up a short post titled Digital Contact Tracing and Alerting vs Exposure Alerting that lays out the history of the concept and renames it “Exposure Alerting.”

Exposure Alerting is the correct phrase for Digital Contact Tracing. It is clearly additive to Manual Contact Tracing (or simply Contact Tracing as most of the non-technical world refers to it.)

So, from here on out, I think we should call this activity Exposure Alerting. I think we would have saved a lot of time and energy if we had come up with the right name from the beginning. But, since this is going to be with us for a very long time, let’s start now.

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