The other night I watched the movie Pearl Harbor. I have to admit that I was a bit down that day, feeling, like everyone else, a helplessness creeping in. But soon after the bombs began falling on Pearl Harbor and after the airports were strafed by Japanese airplanes, after the ships sunk and men burned and drowned, soon after that, I realized that this pandemic is our current Pearl Harbor. In no way would I compare the absolute devastation to human life and horrors that World War II brought us, but instead, I thought about the comparison of how, one day things can be going so well, with sunny skies, and the next, everything goes to hell.

Now, much the same as on December 7th, 1941, our nation was caught unawares.

Yes, we didn’t see the attack coming, had lost an entire fleet of ships, thousands of men and women and were crippled – at least for a moment in time. And then, an entire nation rose to meet the challenge of dealing with a brutal attack on our way of life; on our very lives. What did we do then? Did we feel sorry for ourselves? I’m sure. Did we stay home with the shades drawn so as to prevent light from leaking out to the night sky? I’m sure we did that too. We were at first horrified, scared and alone; understandably, we felt vulnerable. But then we got mad.

We came together as a nation and built the strongest fighting force the world had ever seen. We did this together as a county by working together: Millions of young men and women joined the military and when the factories emptied of their young men, millions of women stepped out of the kitchen and into their jobs. We bought war bonds, donated everything we could to the war effort, dealt with gas rations and food rations and said goodbye, too often to our fathers and sons and brothers whom we would never see again. We did this together and we got through it together.

I write these newsletters, not about wars, but about your business. Watching Pearl Harbor the other night jolted me out of a funk and made me realize that this is nothing compared with what happened to the world during the 2nd World War. This temporary shutdown, while annoying is nothing compared to the devastation of a war. So, what are we all afraid of?

Other than being afraid for our families that they (or we) may get sick, which is the only concern that we should allow in these days, we shouldn’t be afraid of anything else. Are you afraid you’re company isn’t going to pay its bills? Are you afraid that you didn’t buy enough food? Are you afraid that you didn’t save enough money and can’t weather this storm for a month or two? Everyone in the country is having these same thoughts!

Okay, so let’s agree that we were caught unawares to this attack. What do you plan to do about it? When I write about inventory levels and debt and cash reserves in these newsletters and we talk about these things in our Plexus group meetings (ad nauseam), we get one of two responses. The first is everything is fine and Abe is being alarmist and the second is that people begin to pay attention and make changes in their businesses. Sometimes it happens quickly and other times it takes a few years to get the message, but when we get attacked; when we get a shock to our way of life, then everyone pays attention.

How about we stop feeling sorry for ourselves and get to work.

Are you reading this from home? Let’s use this opportunity to get to work on your inventory budgets, your financial budgets, your debt reduction plan, your cash management plan, your sales training, marketing and community outreach plans.

I want you all to know that we are not taking this time to work on our needlepoint skills. Everyone here at BIG is working and will continue to work since there are many jewelers and vendors who want to sharpen their skills, right now, and to develop plans for when things open up again. Plans that are not temporary fixes to this temporary problem; plans that are fundamental to improving their businesses. We are continuing to do our online meetings with our retailers and vendors. But even if you are not a client of ours, I want you to know that you can reach out to us – we are here to help and we’re not going anywhere.

Yes, things are going to change in the short run, but we are creative, we are problem solvers and we are resilient. The question is, will things also change in the long run where we all learn how to build a business that is bullet proof to the next shock and the one after that? Will we continue to have an industry that is built on debt, and low margins and poor cash flow or are we going to, finally, get mad and fix the problem? Are you hunkered down at home with the shades drawn tight, or are you working on solutions? We are all working from home, and you can too.