Serial entrepreneur and executive coach Rick Yvanovich talks about his new book “Business as Unusual: How to Thrive in the New Renaissance.” Rick argues that the world is continuing to undergo a massive shift and that there is no going back to normal. He shares his insights on the mindsets, habits, and skills necessary to succeed in this new era. The conversation also touches on Rick’s journey to Vietnam, where he currently resides, and what it was like living in Saigon during the pandemic.
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About this episode’s guest: Rick Yvanovich
Entrepreneur, Techie, Brit, baby boomer, bean counter in: supermarkets, accounting profession, breweries, newsagents, defence manufacturing, IT, Talent, F&B, property development and BP, in the UK, China, Singapore, Switzerland and Vietnam. Posted to BP China as Finance Manager, then to BP Vietnam in 1990 making him likely the longest Brit and one of the most seasoned expats in Vietnam.
Fellow Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA), Fellow CPA Australia, MSc Strategic Business Management (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK), Certified Coaching and Mentoring Professional (CCMP), Certified Master Coach (CMC).
Treasurer & Board Member BritCham Vietnam, Vice-Chair AMCHAM HCMC DEC (Digital Economy) Group, Chairman Industry Advisory Committee RMIT Vietnam, founder/co-founder/investor/advisor of multiple start-ups.
Regular speaker for Talent, Coaching, Accounting, Digital Transformation, Project Management, Doing Business in Vietnam.
For further info about Rick, check out:
What’s covered in EP204
- [00:01:45] Rick’s career and journey to Vietnam
- [00:08:00] Business as Unusual.
- [00:13:27] The great reshuffle.
- [00:16:29] The impact of lockdowns in Saigon.
- [00:25:01] Technological advancement.
- [00:29:19] Climate change and AI.
- [00:33:24] How to Thrive in the New Renaissance.
- [00:36:11] How AI helps you overcome the tyranny of the blank page.
- [00:41:06] Reflecting on life during COVID.
- [00:46:19] Zoom calls as a lifeline during COVID.
Links relevant to the conversation
Rick’s book Business as Unusual:
Article on “How AI is helping airlines mitigate the climate impact of contrails”:https://blog.google/technology/ai/ai-airlines-contrails-climate-change/
Transcript: Business as Unusual: No such thing as Business as Usual anymore? w/ Rick Yvanovich – EP204
N.B. This is a lightly edited version of a transcript originally created using the AI application otter.ai. It was then checked over by a human being, Tim Hughes from Adept Economics, to pick up any clangers that potters… sorry, otters might have missed. It may not be 100 percent accurate, but should be pretty close. If you’d like to quote from it, please check the quoted segment in the recording.
Gene Tunny 00:06
Welcome to the Economics Explored podcast, a frank and fearless exploration of important economic issues. I’m your host Gene Tunny. I’m a professional economist and former Australian Treasury official. The aim of this show is to help you better understand the big economic issues affecting all our lives. We do this by considering the theory, evidence and by hearing a wide range of views. I’m delighted that you can join me for this episode, please check out the show notes for relevant information. Now on to the show.
Hello, thanks for tuning into the show. In this episode, I chat with entrepreneur Rick Yvanovic about his new book “Business as Unusual How to Thrive in the New Renaissance”. Rick argues that nothing is going back to normal and in Business as Unusual, he gives us his thoughts on the mindsets, habits and skills we need in a world in which there’s no more business as usual. Okay, let’s get into it. I hope you enjoy my conversation with Rick Yvanovich.
Rick Yvanovich, welcome to the programme.
Rick Yvanovich 01:17
Thanks for having me, Gene.
Gene Tunny 01:19
That’s terrific. Rick, keen to chat with you about your new book. “Business as Unusual, How to Thrive in the New Renaissance”. So very interested in that. To start off with I understand you’re coming to us from Vietnam. Could you tell us a bit about your journey to Vietnam, please, Rick, how did you end up there? In terms of your career trajectory?
Rick Yvanovich 01:47
Oh, great question. Gene. Yes, I am calling in today from Vietnam from Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City, as it’s known as today, you might be detecting from my accent that it’s from Britain. So I’m a Brit, although people do accuse me of having an Australian twang, but maybe your listeners would dispute that. How do I get here? How do I how do I get from where I actually started off with which was in a supermarket in the UK, I used to work in as a as a as a management trainee in a supermarket chain. When I left school and didn’t quite make the grades to go to university. And having worked in a supermarket for some months, after about six months, I realised I sort of felt brain dead. As in, I wasn’t applying my brain. Because I’m a numbers person. And, you know, I was a good student at school apart from when it came to those last exams. And for some reason, I suddenly decided, you know, work in a supermarket wasn’t for me, working with people wasn’t for me. I want to become an accountant. Okay, I don’t know where that came from. Maybe the numbers, or maybe it was a careers advisor at school who told me Oh, you’re a numbers guy, Rick you should become an accountant. So I went back to accounting school, became an accountant, joined an audit accounting firm, which I really didn’t like. So switch to management accounting and worked for a brewery, which was far more exciting. I think it’s the only company I’ve ever worked with where they, they gave you free beer and wine at lunch, and encouraged you to drink it. And then that led me on to other things. You know, I moved to defence, manufacturing, defence electronics, and then Facilities Management, or an IT Bureau, which is today known as cloud and cloud computing. And then I moved to real estate. And then I moved to oil. And when I was working for that oil company, they moved me to China. And then they moved me to Vietnam. So that was all the way back in 1990. So I’ve been here for a while. It’s been a it’s been a long and and unusual journey.
Gene Tunny 04:21
Right. Yeah. So you’ve worked across a diverse range of industries and you were in oil, but you no longer in in oil. You’ve been doing your own thing or running your own business. Is that right? And that’s what you’re doing now?
Rick Yvanovich 04:33
Yeah, that’s right. I mean, back in. In 94, I was gonna get shipped back to London, oil price was running at about $15 which was ridiculously low compared to today, and it was going even lower. So that obviously changed all the economics of those companies. And having been in Vietnam for some years, I hadn’t met my previous five bosses. So it would be very dangerous to step onto that plane and step off the plane in London and walk into the office because that will be a very short journey, I think. So I found out about a voluntary redundancy package and I retired. So I actually retired back in 1994. I am a workaholic, though. So that lasted for about five seconds. And I started up an IT company. And we’re still doing what we started literally 30 years ago or 29 years ago, so 30 years next year, which is to implement accounting systems, I’m an accountant, implement accounting systems, seems a bit obvious. And we do it in about 80 different countries around the world today.
Gene Tunny 05:39
Very good. Okay. As an economist, yes, I could, I’m very supportive of my cousins, or my fellow people in the accounting profession, and I understand the value of it. So that’s, that’s good stuff. Righto, well Rick I’d better ask you about your new book Business as Unusual. So with the title Business as Unusual, what are you driving at there? What is the, the genesis of that title? Could you explain that, please?
Rick Yvanovich 06:09
Well the genesis of of that was, you know, the book was birthed, as it were, in about 2020. I’ve always had this, you know, on my life goals list, you know, might be or could, may have been a life fantasy list, you know, go write a book. And it’s been that for years. But if we go back, you know, some years if we can all remember, not pretty sure if everybody listening can remember, 2020 is when we had that COVID pandemic sort of sprung upon us by surprise. And it was during that that period, that I actually, because I had time on my hands, funnily enough, I started writing a book, and got it actually published earlier this year. But you know, as, as we were locked down, and I know in Australia, you know, you locked down the country for some years. And here in Vietnam, we effectively locked down the country for some years as well. So as an expat here, as a foreigner, I could leave, but I couldn’t come back, necessarily. So that was not a good idea to leave. And so therefore, I actually worked out from the start of the pandemic, when they started the lock downs, which is tail end of the first quarter of 2020, I didn’t move more than about 10 or 15 kilometres away from where I live for two years, literally for two years. As this is was all happening. And as things started falling apart, and all the wheels fell off everything people kept saying, when this is over, when we you know, go back into the offices, and it goes back to business as usual, when you know, this is just the new normal, you know, we’ll get over this and everything can just go back to the way it was before. And this just sort of annoyed me more than anything else, but there’s nothing remotely normal about any of this, there is no business as usual. And especially here in Vietnam, you know, where the clamp downs were pretty tough, you know, confined to apartment, you know, you need a permit to literally walk out your front door and go down to go down to the shop once a week or twice. So we really, really, really tightly controlled and it was open, close, open, close, open, close. And this went on for a while. And each time people thought it’s over, and we can go back to the office. Something else happened, oh, we got another lockdown or another another. And I said, there is nothing usual about this. This is all unusual. And that’s where the where the title came from business as unusual. Because shock after shock or surprise after surprise kept hitting us whether it is another lockdown, or, you know, other things we’ve experienced. There’s a bit of a war going on and you know, in Europe isn’t there. You know, we have the economic turmoil that’s hitting some countries, we’ve had the great resignation or great insert word that you want. All these things are happening and have been happening. And, and it’s not over yet. This is just unusual.
Gene Tunny 09:34
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Certainly since 2020. I fully agree with you. I’ve got a couple of questions and a few things I want to explore. So Rick, you said you know things aren’t going back to normal? I mean, what have you noticed what things have you noticed haven’t really settled down in in say, the way we work or the way we live? So the economy society, what have you really noticed that hasn’t gone back to normal?
Rick Yvanovich 10:03
There are a few things. So when we look at normal, and what do we really mean by that? So you could say that’s linked to a bit business as usual. So that business as usual doesn’t have to be in a work context. It can just be an a non-work or a life context. And I think this is all very much linked to this, this great resignation or reshuffle or whatever you want to want to call it. Pre-pandemic, pre all of this happening. Normal, one could argue, was the, you know, we get up, we go the office, we sit in our cube, you know, we go home, we get on with life. So married with our job, married to our job, maybe married to our mortgage, got bills to pay, right? Kids in school, all that kind of stuff. And I feel that there was a as an acceptance that we might be a bit bit like that hamster on a wheel at work, and we’re in a cube, we’re in a cage and we’re not going anywhere. COVID comes along, and they took the office away, they threw the cube away, and they threw that wheel away, you know, are we any better off? Well, we don’t even have a wheel to run around. And you know, we’re not even in that cube anymore. We’re just somewhere else which might be your home, or whatever you ended up being. Because at the end of the day, when the lock downs happen, it’s like musical chairs, isn’t it. And I know people who were on a business trip, and they couldn’t get back into Vietnam. They also couldn’t get back into their country of origin either. And they were just stuck wherever they were stuck. And you know, it’s crazy. I know some people who are stuck literally for six months or 10 months in a third country where they didn’t want to be in in the first place, but they couldn’t move. Anyway. So I liken it to they’ve, you know, we’re no longer that hamster or whatever, running in circles in a wheel going nowhere. I feel that people feel that they’re not too sure what direction to go in anymore. And so it’s more like, we’re still that hamster, or any other animal you want to call yourself. But we’re trapped in a maze. You know, there are lots of different directions we can go in. But they’re not necessarily leading anywhere. And it’s a bit like the, the Cheshire Cat in you know, Alice in Wonderland. And Alice comes to the crossroads and sees the cat and says, you know, which way should I go? And the cat’s sort of saying, well, it really depends where you want to go. And Alice is replying well, I really don’t know, the cat’s saying, well, it really doesn’t matter where you’re gonna go? Because you’re not going to go anywhere. And I feel that’s what the great resignation is all about. You know, some people have been forced to resign because their industry has collapsed, or the company they’re working for has gone bankrupt, and it’s collapsed. Or they didn’t like how they’re being treated when all this was happening, and so they’ve been, they’ve had to resign, or they were terminated, or they walked with their feet, because the grass is always greener. The only problem is, is people have found that the grass isn’t greener. And they’re still moving around. And so the ripple effects of the Great reshuffle as it’s, you know, as it morphed into, a still happening and is, you know, it’s happening across the world. So the way that we look at work has changed. And we can see this by the yo yo that we had, maybe it’s less this year, but especially last year, when companies opened up again, hey, you can come back to the office. Yeah but we’ve been working remotely for a year and I like working remotely, and I don’t want to come back to the office. So you know, if your company allows you to work 100% remotely and you like it, you know, you’re quids in right? But no worries. However, what happens if you know, you’re forced to come back to the office and you’re told you must come back to the office? Or you must be in the office for X days, when you want to not be in the office? Conversely, what are those? What about those people who really, really miss the office, they missed all that collaboration, all their friends and they want to go back to the office, okay, but they’re told no, no, we got rid of the offices we worked out we can save loads of money by having no offices, go work from home or wherever you want. So the whole way of working is changing and some companies are enforcing it. Some people are sitting on the fence, you know, and that’s really confusing. Okay, it’s really, really confusing. And so not only does that affect each one of our citizens as an individual, Hey, what is our company doing in which we may agree or disagree with? Working within that? Okay? Because I’m I’m seeing that more and more or I don’t know what the percentage is, but I feel it’s very high, very high percentage of companies have some form of remote work now or hybrid work. And the way that you work in a hybrid situation is new to a lot of us, okay? Like, hey, we went to the office and like we sit around the watercooler, we go out for lunch, we have a coffee, we go for a beer or whatever. That’s how it works. But how do you do that when half the people aren’t there? So how do we communicate? And today we’re on we’re on a zoom call, which maybe two years ago, and we weren’t that expert zoom. Whereas today, well come on it’s a basic skill to be expert on Zoom and Teams and all the other video conferencing platforms, it’s just a new tool the you absolutely must know. So all how do we work? Well, that’s a tricky one. What’s the best practice for companies? Oh, that’s a tricky one as well. How can there be a best practice when we’re still trying to work it out? And that’s just work. Now, if we look at, but from another point of view, how about our lives, okay, in the year or so, depending on what country you are in, and whatever restrictions that you experience, you know, if your work, the way you work has changed. How has the way you live changed? You know in a lot of countries is especially what I found here in Vietnam, having been locked down for so much. There’s some really basic things that I started missing. You know, I’m not a tree hugger. Okay. However, once them doors were open, you could actually go outside. Hello, gosh, there’s a tree. Let me touch it. I haven’t seen haven’t touched one of these for literally months. Okay, and then you know, what, when things are taken away, maybe we, we start appreciating, and we start noticing things that that we actually missed, going for a walk in the woods, silly thing like that. Or, you know, walking on the grass in bare feet or going down the beach, you know, strike going down the beach and striking up a Barbie. You know, all of these things were taken away.
Gene Tunny 17:35
Okay, we’ll take a short break here for a word from our sponsor.
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Gene Tunny 18:10
Now back to the show.
As a matter of interest Rick, can I ask you about Saigon? Because I don’t know a lot about it. I mean, other than I mean, it’s a large city. So if it’s like other Southeast Asian cities, then it could be very difficult to go outside and just walk around and go on a nice relaxing walk. But what is it like? I mean, is it? Are there places you can go? Are there parks? If you do get outside? Or do you have to travel further afield.
Rick Yvanovich 18:39
Ho Chi Minh city, officially then 9 million people, okay 10 million people in a place with 10 million people. There’s one thing you’re guaranteed. They’re always people about? Ok? And the weird thing during COVID was the the city turned into arguably a ghost town. Okay, because like any other sort of urbanised city, where are the people really from? Are they native to the city? Or do they come from outside the city? So the big challenge that that I feel the Ho Chi Minh city face and its impact on people, was that yes, it’s you know, the bustling, the biggest Metropolis there is in the country. And it’s also the employer of an awful lot of people in in in the whole province of Ho Chi Minh city because the city itself is a province is so big. There are multiple industrial zones, and there are hundreds of 1000s if not millions of workers there. Those are not native to the province. They come from elsewhere. So when the pandemic hit, and they say stay at home. And if you’re a factory worker, and a home is the room that you’re sharing that you happen to live in, because you work in a factory. Okay, home is miles away. And as as they tighten down restrictions. And you know, we had things like tent cities emerge as an Yeah, if your company can provide you a place of sleeping a tent, literally, which could be set up in a factory or even in your office, then you can stay there, you don’t actually have to leave that office or building. And that happened for a while. But what what happens if you employ 50,000 people? It’s been tricky, right? So there was mass migration, when they shut it down. And hundreds of 1000s of people were fleeing the city. Okay, so the city sort of shrunk because a lot of people left. And it was literally a ghost city. And whereas on a normal day, you have to look both ways very, very carefully to cross the road. And, and if you go into the busy streets, you might even learned, need to learn how to cross the road, because there’s so much traffic, at this ghost home, you can do what I used to do back in the early 90s when I first arrived here, you could lie down in the middle of the street, and nothing would happen because there was nobody there. So it’s weird. So for me, it was like Oh nostalgia. There’s no one around this is wonderful. There’s an I can’t hear anything. There. No, no, guys, there’s no toot toot there. No, no, there’s no noise control here, either. And so there’s constant noise all the time. And it was like, it was wonderful. I loved it. So it also remind me what I miss what I missed what I’ve been missing.
Gene Tunny 22:00
I mean, it’s good that we’re out of lockdown and restrictions and even if we’re not getting back to normal, even if we’re in this business as unusual. I think it’s still preferable to, to what we had during the pandemic with all the restrictions. Right. Can I ask Rick about a are you arguing or your you think that we’re in a phase now we’ve we’ve left the pre COVID world, and we’ve just got to get used to this unusual, you know, unusual things happen? Or maybe we were deluding ourselves pre COVID. And we forgot that things unusual things can happen. What’s your take on that? Should that just be our basic operating principle, you should be careful assuming things are going to be business as usual. There’s a debate about whether in the past we ever it ever made sense to do that. We should expect volatility, we should expect shocks, so to speak. What’s your take on that, Rick?
Rick Yvanovich 22:57
Yeah, I agree with you. It’s the VUCA mindset, isn’t it? Which was penned a long time ago? Yeah, the VUCA as in volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, so that VUCA mindset. Now, if we had a VUCA mindset with COVID, you know, we’d be highly resilient and agile to it and like whatever, we’d be able to cope with it. But not many of us knew that mindset. And therefore, like, you know, somebody moved all the goalposts. And you know, what do you mean, I can’t go in or out of the country? What do you mean, I can’t walk down the road? Can’t walk my dog or whatever? I mean, this is ridiculous. Yeah. So all of those personal freedoms that we have taken for granted. I think we have got a rude awakening that will okay, this is an unusual situation with we’re taking them away. And there’s huge backlash to that. So anyway, I believe that there is no going back to normal. Okay. That’s why I call it business as unusual. I think we need to embrace the unusual no matter what anybody says COVID is overall whatever you want to class it. Look at what’s happened just this year with a generative AI. Yeah, you know, that took people by surprise. Like, where did this come from? Well, okay, it’s been brewing for more than a decade, guys. But you know, it that that has hit the world by storm. So that’s yet another you could say it’s another shock. Okay. It’s another huge shock on top of all the other shocks that we’ve had. So do you want to call it a shock? Do we want to talk call it technological advancement, okay, because that’s what it is, is just some bright sparks dreaming up some more great, innovative ideas, and it’s called generative AI and the world is embracing it in fits and starts. Okay, so some people are advocating oh this is terrible legislate against it. And other people are, you know, the first movers are embracing it and racing ahead. That’s just version one you could say of generative AI, what’s next? It’s going to keep on coming and coming at us. So how we live, okay? And how we work needs to be adaptive to that. Because we’re either going to get steamrollered and squashed by it, or we are going to be resilient to it, we’re going to be agile to it. And we’re going to embrace it and use it to keep moving forward.
Gene Tunny 25:43
Yeah, well, the take up of it is, is extraordinary. And I mean, all sorts of people are finding uses for it. And I mean, I find, I find it’s helpful, you have to bear in mind that it’s a not very good intern, I think, as Kevin Kelly described it, so you do have to be careful what it gives you, and it says that all you look at it, it doesn’t necessarily give you factual information, if it’s if we’re talking about Chat GPT. And sometimes the images that things is it mid journey, the the generative AI, image creator, but whatever it is, they can do quirky things like creative, you know, give people extra fingers and things like that. So you have to be careful with that as a first start on things. It’s just extraordinary. And I mean, the risk is if you know, we, AI guess you know, if it’s, if it makes it easier for people to commit scams to hack to and then you know, if you think of all of these nefarious or these worst case scenarios where the AI becomes what did Skynet become in Terminator 2 become sentient or became conscious. Takes over a bit. I think that’s probably a bit outlandish. But yeah, I agree with you AI is one of the things we need to that’s a huge, huge development. And yeah, we’ll have we’ll have to see how it all develops. And I mean, potentially, we will need some regulation around it. Anyway, that’s just a comment rather than a question, Rick, but if you did want to respond in any way,
Rick Yvanovich 27:15
It’s true. At the end of the day, AI is a tool. And like any tool, it can be used for different things, you can use it use it for good. And you can use it for not so good. And then unfortunately, there will always be not so good folks around doing not so good things. But we shouldn’t let that overshadow all the wonderful things that AI can actually do. I mean, there’s so many positive applications to it today. And I think as people become more aware of it, and it becomes more readily available and more cheaply available, not just for individuals, but for organisations as well. It can really, really, really help. And at the end of the day, you know, I like your comment that I agree, it’s like a not a very good intern, I would reframe that, I think it’s good to treat it like an intern in that doesn’t know what to do. Okay. So it’s not going to proactively do something until you prompt it. So it really is linked to how good are we in asking it to do what we want it to do? And I think that’s how most people are using the typical AIs that the moment? The next level is already? How do you teach it? And this is even Chat GPT? How do you teach it to respond better? So again, take that intern analogy. How would we teach it to do things better? And if you know how to do that, then it will.
Gene Tunny 29:02
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we’re, it’s just early days. And already, I mean, it’s helpful. I use it to generate the first drafts of shownotes. episode titles and episode descriptions. And yeah, it gives you somewhere to start. So it’s terrific in that regard. Righto, Rick, what about some other things that could be coming at us? Or that could make things unusual? Have you thought about anything? What other possibilities? There are? I mean, climate change. I mean, if you think about some of the extreme scenarios around that, is that something that concerns you anything else?
Rick Yvanovich 29:39
Oh, yes, climate change should concern all of us. And maybe this is something where AI can actually help us. You know, arguably AI is collective wisdom, isn’t it? It’s all our knowledge. We just have to ask it in the right way. So again, it’s it’s a tool and how we use the tool. So for climate change, there are a couple of things. I read an article the other day about what Google is doing with AI and the airlines, one of the biggest contributors to climate change is air travel. And one of the things that causes a negative climate effect is the vapour trails that an aeroplane creates when it’s flying. Okay? And that contributes, I can’t remember the number but it’s some horrendously high number 30 40% of the pollution that it’s creating. So the challenge was, can we use AI to do something about the aeroplanes trajectory to minimise that, okay? Because it’s the aeroplane going through the different, going through the air, and what you know, what type of air is it, you know, how saturated that air is, how warm it is, how cool it is, and it can cause more or less vapour traps. Keep a long story short anyway, they worked it out, okay? And are trialling getting the air, when when they’re flying the plane is to do some minor adjustments to go a little bit higher or a little bit lower to reduce the vapour trail. And in trials, they reduced it by even as much as 50%. And that’s just a little tweak. You know, that’s not very much. Now other things as well. I mean, we know with the Earth getting a lot hotter. Yes, we all want to whack up that aircon and we’re whacking up the aircon to make our environment cooler. But we’re making our environment cooler because it’s hot. Okay, so there’s other tech out there already to try and reduce the heat. Okay, that a building has. And again, using some AI in their analysis of this. So it’s a bit like the paints that they have created. All right, which will help reflect the right type of rays. Okay, the sunlight, which will, they’ve actually worked out that if they use these panels that they’ve created, which reflects the sun, okay, but only certain wavelengths, it actually cools, it’s cooling. Okay, but it doesn’t block out the sun. It’s only certain rays. And again, AI is being used for for things like this. So there’s an awful lot of good that we can use AI but AI sensibly, and obviously, you know, certain industries like the health industry. And I would expect to see huge, huge inroads in that. Things will carry on changing. And I think with advanced tools like AI coming in and becoming more mainstream, I think the pace of especially technological change is going to accelerate. Yeah, now, going back to the business as unusual. And so without that, that’s unusual. You know, technology is all very well and good. And we all have our attitudes on whether technology is for good or not so good. The second part of the book, or the second part of the title, and our business as unusual how to thrive in the new renaissance. Yes, thank you, you have got a book. And in this business, that’s unusual. Well, you got one, and I still have yet to actually physically touch one. That was another usual thing. But the second half of the, you know, the subtitle, how to thrive in the new renaissance? What’s the renaissance got to do with it? Well, I already touched on technology, in the original Renaissance technology was the printing press, arguably today the new renaissance is technology advancement is Yeah, around the internet, the power of that all the apps we have and now generative AI, you know, the original Renaissance was all about exploration, you know, finding new countries, new lands, these days, it’s find the other things. It’s like going deep inside humans and seeing more inside the brain or whatever is going on inside us. Going into the depths of the oceans, but it’s going beyond the Earth, you know, going to the stars. The other thing, the other Biggie was the challenging of authority. So back on the original Renaissance that was the challenging of the church and the power of the church, in today’s Renaissance is the challenging of political structures and countries and how countries are governed. Okay, Okay. And finally, I think this is the most important thing. And but I left it to last even though I should have said at first, the original Renaissance was about humanism, it was about humanism. And the new Renaissance is all still about humans. And it’s about human potential in the light of all these technological advancements that we have. So that’s why I really believe that the human side is super important. And AI is not a human. And there are quirks about humans that make us human that the AI doesn’t have. So I see AI and other technologies it’s a way to augment our potential, we can do a lot more using AI, for example, you yourself said, Hey, you use AI. And it can dream up a couple of topics for you. That’s wonderful. Yeah. Okay. And it saves you a load of time. Yeah. Which makes you more productive, and you have more time to do some other stuff. That’s wonderful.
Gene Tunny 36:01
It takes you away from what do they call the tyranny of the blank page? Which which can make you procrastinate, so it’s good in that regard. I want to ask you a couple of things about what you said there Rick that, that was all, all fascinating. So one of the things you you talked about was government and so that we’re in this new Renaissance , what are you thinking about with with government? I mean, clearly, there are all sorts of people seem to be more unhappy with government than ever before, there are concerns about? Yeah, I mean, the US in particular is, you know, really problematic. And just looking at it from the outside. It doesn’t look good. What’s going on there. Looks like it’s, it’s cooked. It’s very volatile. I mean, what are you thinking with, with government? I mean, do you see changes in the way we we govern ourselves? Is technology part of that story? What are you thinking? What are you thinking there Rick?
Rick Yvanovich 37:05
That’s a big question. Yeah, I’ll put a caveat around that I’m not political in the slightest. Don’t like talking about politics. It’s always going to upset people. But if we go around the world, and we just look at COVID, I guess the jury’s still out, we can say, on which countries handled it better than others. Okay. And who’s making that opinion, anyway, is that us as individuals? I feel that it really doesn’t matter where we were on the planet during COVID. Each of us experienced, whatever we experienced. And the question is, is, were we expecting some kind of benevolent government to know better, and help and support us? Or should we be more independent, and be able to look after ourselves? That’s a big questions and a loaded question as well. My feeling, my feeling is, a lot of people feel that they need to look after themselves better. Because if no one was looking after them during that period, what are they going to do when it happens again? Because at the end of the day, if we go back to the earlier days of the pandemic, there’s some people saying, well, we knew this was going to happen. Okay, it was inevitable. Yeah, the some kind of pandemic of this scale would happen. All right. And maybe the voices have gone silent, or they’ve been drowned in the noise of everything else that is going on in the world. That, okay, we told you so, we told you, it could happen. And it can also happen again, because we’ve really proven that it can happen. So how prepared are we, for the shock? Or the the new challenge of something similar but different happens again? Yeah, you know, how’s that, you know, how are we going to cope with it? So, going back to the business as unusual, so, how is business as unusual, which is the first in a trilogy is written from an owner an owner leader perspective of an organisation. So how can you make your your organisation more resilient to this kind of shock? You know if you were in the hospitality business, tourism business, you got pretty well beaten up during during COVID. There are certain industries which got absolutely flattened. So how can you be more resilient to that in the future? Now the other two books just so you know, that are in the series? The next one I’m I’m writing is the life as unusual, so I’m looking at the individual, you know how that that needs to change, how we view life needs to change. And it’s all of this, the next two books it’s all already in there in the first book, we’re just going into into more detail and taking a different perspective. Okay? Because on the life one, because you know people used to talk about work life balance, and too many hours at work your’e a workaholic, not spending enough time at home. And some people say it’s not a work life balance it’s a life work balance. I argue it’s neither. Balance is balance, balance is balance, you know, who said life and work are the two sides of the balance there, many aspects of the balance that need to be considered. And this is, I think, the the awakening that I sense has happened during the last few years, is people are reflecting on because they had nothing else better to do maybe, or they were forced to do it on what are they doing with their life? Yeah, so the fact that maybe you couldn’t go out, you couldn’t go for your walk, you couldn’t go down the beach, you couldn’t travel, you couldn’t do the things that you wanted to do. And that was taken away for you for a period of time. How important are those things to you? Some of them, you may realise that, oh, it was irrelevant. Others like ah, I really actually need that. Okay, now as those realisations happen, whether it’s what you do, when you’re not working, the past times, and the hobbies that you have, because you might have had to change them to something that is restricted to where you live, the four walls of where you live, rather than being able to go outside, if he had to go outside to do it. I think we’re having to reevaluate it, what the importance of these things are, because that’s for us as individuals. The other thing that happen, that is, is really acute, I find over the pandemic is relationships. Okay, so how was it? You know, I think what, I can’t remember what the statistic was in the US, but I think the number of divorces went through the roof. Okay, because you’re actually stuck with your partner or your family for a prolonged period of time in a restricted space. So in a lot of cases, it didn’t go so well. And in other cases, it went wonderfully. Okay. But another scenario could be, well, what if you were separated from your family? There are many people who have moved, they might have siblings, they might have parents, they may have their own kids in other countries, and they didn’t see them for a long period of time. Now, what does that do to the relationship? I mean, during COVID, I lost my wife for 10 months. You know some people might be going “Yeah, lucky you!” But she was medivacced in early sort of around March 2020. And then they close the borders in Vietnam, so she couldn’t return. Okay, so I had medivacced her to to a third country, which was Singapore. And she was on rehab, because it was a back operation, they were teaching her how to walk again. And, and so she was in the hotel across the road and just had to go in for to see the doctors and all of that to teach her stuff. And then, as things tightened in Singapore, they commandeered the hotel as a quarantine location and kicked her out of the hotel, to another hotel that happened three times. Also, since to learn how to walk again, they used to take her out outside to walk. They had to stop doing that she wasn’t allowed to go into the hospital because she, she’s an outpatient, she’s not allowed to do that. So she was stuck there for about four months before I managed to move her to her country of origin, which happens to be Switzerland. So she managed to get in there. So for it took me several months to get the right permits when they allow people with the right permits to return to Vietnam. So it took me 10 months to get her back. And my daughter was at University at the time, and yet another country. So for for a long period of time, I had my daughter and my wife in two other countries and I was here with my with my son. And by the time I connected my son and my daughter again, we’ve got got us all back in the same country. They hadn’t seen each other for two years. That’s pretty unusual. And I guess in that case, well, our whole idea of the relationship changes the whole idea. I mean, this Zoom. I remember we had a bunch of interns, because we’re big on internships. And our interns come from overseas. So we brought them over from overseas, and they will work in Ho Chi Minh City. And we used to take interns with a big cohort from Denmark. So we had about anything from about 10 to 15 of them at any point in time. And their government recalled them all. You know, they gave them advice, hey, come back home, come back to Denmark, okay. And they were arranging, like other governments, Australia did the same. You know, they’re arranging flights to bring their country people back home. And we did have some went and some didn’t. But going back to the, to the interns, in this period of time, where some of them moved back, and some of them didn’t, there were there were some quarantines as well, because some of them happened to have got COVID. So they’re put into quarantine. And, and we started doing these zoom calls, to check in on people on a regular basis. And the thing that really hammered it home into me is one day, one session we were having, an intern, turned around and said, these calls are my lifeline, do you realise you were the first people outside of quarantine, that I’ve spoken to this week. You know, it’s, you know, things that we can’t imagine, things that we might get from the history books, or, you know, our great great great grandma parents or whatever, who tell us them old stories of the hardships when they were young, things that that we would think would never ever happen to anyone we would ever know, in this day and age, especially in the more developed worlds that we live in, can actually happen to us.
Gene Tunny 46:57
Very true. Very true.
Rick Yvanovich 46:59
Things will remain unusual.
Gene Tunny 47:01
Yes, Rick. So that was the second book. So you said so your first is business as unusual, then life as unusual. What’s the third one going to be?
Rick Yvanovich 47:09
Work as unusual.
Gene Tunny 47:11
Work as unusual? Got it.
Rick Yvanovich 47:12
I’m leaving that to last because the jury’s out and I’m not really too sure where the dust will settle? Because it hasn’t settled yet. It really hasn’t settled yet.
Gene Tunny 47:21
Yeah, I agree with you on that. Now, before we wrap up, I’d just like to ask, What do you think of the key takeaways for organisations or for CEOs or, you know, managers reading business as unusual? What are you think of the major takeaways for them? Top two or three. Are you able to summarise it in that way, however many you think are the most important.
Rick Yvanovich 47:51
Yeah, I think it’s really around a core belief that I hold really dear, is, I believe that every one of us has the potential to be the architect of change. Now, we live by all these weird technological, and non technological transformations that are happening. And our task, our challenge is not just to keep up and exist, but to actively shape the path forward. Okay. And every single day, our actions, whether they’re big or small, shape our future, because our action is a choice we choose to do, or choose to not do. And therefore each one of us needs to remember, we are our own brand. And every single one of these choices, every single one of these decisions we make is part of the unique story that makes us human, that makes us us, or makes me me and makes youyou, okay, how we react, how we adapt, and how we innovate in the face of change will define not only your story, but your legacy. So that’s, that’s the background to it. So to reflect on the takeaways that I believe that are in the book, because the book is it gives you a framework. So you can shape your life in any way that you wish. But I give you a framework. And within that framework, you know, the framework uses the metaphor of a castle. And within the framework, I’m just hitting you with a shedload of tools. These are all the tools that I use myself. But a lot of the tools that I use are a synthesis and multiple other tools. So I just say here all the tools are a bunch of tools, you know, yeah, five tools, try them all and find out which one resonates. So going back to your original question, you know, I want people to remember that we’re not just a participant in today’s ever changing world, we’re the architect. And as architects, we are shaping the course of our own lives, our own careers, and the world around us. So I encourage all of us as individuals. And if you, you know, if you have more impact, like you’re the business owner or a business leader, I encourage you all to embrace the change, but define it, rather than just adapt to it. So be that catalyst in this in your own business as unusual world.
Gene Tunny 50:39
Yeah, absolutely. And, yeah, expect the unusual, I think I mean, that’s what I would be. I would be saying, Yeah, you’ve got to get across the new technology, so you don’t get left behind. You’ve got to stay as alert and as healthy and fit as possible to be able to make sure you’re, you can play the game as best you can. Yeah. Because I think you’re right. I mean, I think we are in this business as unusual world, just the extraordinary amount of change we’ve been seeing. It’s absolutely. Rick this has been great. Any final thoughts before we conclude?
Rick Yvanovich 51:18
Yeah, I, I, of course, encourage the people to go out, go out and get the book.
Gene Tunny 51:27
Absolutely I’ll put a link in the show notes. Yeah.
Rick Yvanovich 51:30
And, but more important to that is, you know, change transformation starts with each of us. As individuals, it’s, it’s ourselves that has to decide to change, or not, okay. And as we change, we transform because that’s what transformation is, that’s change, you can’t go back after you’ve changed and once the, once the caterpillar is a butterfly, it can’t become a caterpillar again, it has transformed, okay. And this is really important. And I think the journey is only beginning. So I’m really, really curious to hear about your journeys. So as as your listeners embrace this, they try it out. I really encourage them to, you know let Gene know, let me know, reach out to us. And tell us about your journey, because I’m sure they’re going to be absolutely fascinating.
Gene Tunny 52:21
Yeah, that’s, that’s good. That’s a good point recommend. I’d be interested. If you’re listening, and you’ve got thoughts on or how things have become unusual for you and how you’re responding that would be that would be very useful and yeah to the extent that you are that you have adjusted, you’re adapting then. Yes. And some thoughts on that would be great. So yeah, Rick, I think that’s a really good spot to conclude. And I’d like to thank you for, for your time for your, your thoughts on business as unusual. And for the book, which does Yeah, it. I think you’re onto something here with business as unusual. And you’ve got some good, good tips and good tricks, good bits of advice in that that book. So good work on that. And I think yeah, I think the idea of doing a trilogy is terrific. And yeah, I learned a lot from the conversation, learned about your experience in Vietnam, during the pandemic, and just how disruptive that was. And also, that’s the info about Google and AI with the flights and reducing the greenhouse gas emissions. I’ll find that online and I’ll put a link in the show notes below. That was really, really neat. So, again, Rick Yvanovich, thanks so much for your time. I really enjoyed the conversation.
Rick Yvanovich 53:42
Gene thank you, too. I’d like to express my gratitude for for allowing me on your podcast today. It’s it’s been a fascinating conversation, some great questions. I hope our listeners have enjoyed it as much as I have. And to all your listeners, all our listeners, I really appreciate your time and attention. And just like Gene, I look forward to hearing from some of you from learning from your experience, and perhaps giving us the opportunity to share more in depth future discussions. Thank you again, Gene, and to all our listeners for this wonderful exchange. Until next time, goodbye
Gene Tunny 54:22
Righto thanks for listening to this episode of Economics Explored. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please get in touch. I’d love to hear from you. You can send me an email via email@example.com Or a voicemail via SpeakPipe. You can find the link in the show notes. If you’ve enjoyed the show, I’d be grateful if you could tell anyone you think would be interested about it. Word of mouth is one of the main ways that people learn about the show. Finally, if your podcasting app lets you then please write a review and leave a rating. Thanks for listening. I hope you can join me again next week.
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