COVID-19 has (as of March 7, 2020) spawned more than 100,000 cases around the world. As a new and not-yet-well-understood viral strain, its rapid spread is raising necessary health and safety concerns, leading to canceled business meetings, postponed conferences, banned travels, and mass quarantines. Daily life and supply chains are disrupted, financial markets are unstable, and valuable opportunities to carry out business, to network, and to engage with friends and family are lost – without an end in sight. This situation is taking a heavy toll on all of us.

Originally published on LinkedIn by Christine Gould on March 8, 2020.

For those of us who work in small businesses, startups, nonprofits, or who are freelancing, this level of uncertainty in the world can be particularly stressful. In our TFF core team, we have been dealing with this by talking openly about our state of mind, and about the real and potential impacts, this situation is having on the entrepreneurs, farmers and creatives we work with. We want you to know that we are here for you!

As we all go through these struggles, and experience increased fears and doubts, it is as important as ever to tap into the power of the 6 Next-Gen Innovation Attitudes. As a reminder, these attitudes are openness, collaboration, beginners’ mindset, entrepreneurial methods, purpose, and nurturing communities.

Here are some examples of how we at TFF are embracing these attitudes in order to stay positive and solutions-focused during these challenging times. We encourage you to try incorporating them in all that you do too, and share back your experiences with us:

👐 Openness

This attitude is about embracing new experiences and diverse ideas and connecting seemingly unexpected dots to create new ideas and breakthroughs. Since many of the meetings we were supposed to attend have been canceled, we in the TFF core team have been using the “extra time” we have to dive in and explore new topics that can influence our future strategy. I have personally started to learn more about how the music and gaming industries are integrating VR and AR technologies to create the future of music festivals while reducing their climate footprint. These completely disparate industries are providing exciting insights about how to organize awesome, memorable and impactful virtual events – and this seems particularly timely given the current state of the world. What new ideas can you be looking into?

🤝 Collaboration

Based on an open attitude and willingness to dive into the possibilities of digital technologies, anyone can collaborate on anything, anywhere, at any time. The critical element to solving future challenges is more minds working together. While COVID-19 has shut down schools and offices in many countries, tools like Zoom, Skype, and Slack are helping to keep businesses and education programs running. In this vein, TFF has launched the virtual portion of our TFF Academy, a startup acceleration program for the TFF Challenge Finalist teams. Over the coming months, these teams from every corner of the planet will connect with each other online. They will develop their business models and strategies, while also actively collaborating with mentors and TFF’s diverse global community. Together, they will drive forward solutions across time-zones, language, cultural, and disciplinary barriers. How can you foster increased digital collaboration?

🧠 Beginners’ Mindset

This attitude is all about holding on to the playfulness and intrinsic curiosity that we all have as kids. We love the novel “crowdsourcing” approach that the University of Washington is taking to combat the spread of COVID-19. Using their Foldit platform, they have introduced a puzzle that challenges scientists and the public alike to build a protein that could block the virus from infiltrating human cells. This approach actually works – several years ago non-experts on the same platform generated a solution for the AIDS virus within 3 weeks that had stumped scientists for decades. Instead of getting sucked into reading the endless stream of clickbait media articles about coronavirus, we are spending our time playing and promoting this game, and think that you should too. How can you dive into a new subject, and unleash creative ideas and solutions through positive engagement?

🛠 Entrepreneurial Methods

Entrepreneurs are some of the best solution-finders out there. In every challenge, they see opportunity – and in today’s world, it has never been cheaper or easier for them to take a risk in pursuit of a beneficial breakthrough. On our Digital Labs, we provide entrepreneurs with all kinds of learning courses, live sessions, and personal development tools. Our partners at Agribusiness Academy are currently offering a session on how COVID-19 impacts global food security, SynBioBeta ran a virtual town hall on the synbio response, and together, we are discussing potential solutions like automation and indoor growing that may help us to be better equipped as the virus keeps spreading across the globe. A great example of how the open-source movement is galvanizing entrepreneurially-minded innovators is the #OpenCovid19Initiative by the French non-profit Just One Giant Lab (JOGL). They are developing and sharing open-source methodologies to safely test for the presence of the virus using multiple approaches. What problems can you turn into opportunities?

💡 Purpose

The purposeful attitude is critical when it comes to building emotional intelligence and resilience. If you are looking for tips and tricks on how to find your purpose, and adopt a strong and bold leadership mindset to cope with “black swan” events like COVID-19, be sure to check out our “Founders Therapy” course on the Digital Labs, which is led by Marc Dimancescu. You can sign up here for free.

👥 Nurturing Community

Ultimately, relationships drive forward everything that we do. Our support system revives and propels us forward during the hardest times. Nurturing personal and professional relationships requires a different approach when we aren’t able to meet in real life. To keep our motivation levels high, TFF engages our global community on an ongoing basis using social media. We share uplifting stories with each other, ideas for what to eat and how to thrive in case of quarantine, and playlists to keep ourselves energized and dancing (including songs to hum while we are washing our hands). Excitingly, to help us get through some of the financial difficulties we are all facing in this downturned market, we are also experimenting with a new community bartering system (jokingly called “TFF-coin”). This is a creative way for us “bootstrapping entrepreneurs” to help each other with the work that needs to get done by cross-sharing our respective skills. Where there’s a next-gen will, there’s always a next-gen way.

We are confident that by tapping into these next-gen attitudes, and by coming together to support each other, we will be able to successfully drive forward our personal and business goals during this global state of emergency. We can replace paralysis with agency; Tell stories that show how opportunity can arise from, instead of spreading fear of, COVID-19.

We encourage you to follow our call to shift our mindsets to become more solutions-oriented and positive—for our own (mental and physical) health and humanity’s health at large.

Please spread the word about any cool next-gen solutions for work and innovation that you have discovered by using the hashtag #nextgencorona on your social media channels. Be sure to tag us at @thoughtforfoodorg (Twitter: @thoughtforfood_) so we can share your positive voices too!