In the first of Wirecard Solutions South Africa’s three-part, ‘Reset, Restore, Renew’ webinar series to help business owners and entrepreneurs navigate through the Covid-19 crisis, it was Andre du Toit aka The Big Positive Guy’s carefully considered analysis and common-sense advice that earned him a virtual standing ovation at the session’s closing.

Typical of Andre’s analytical approach (he was a mathematician before launching his second career as a motivational speaker), he opened the webinar with a useful, contextual overview. These were the key points:

A president for unprecedented times

Andre praised SA President, Cyril Ramaphosa for his pro-active response to the pandemic, particularly in instituting an early national lockdown. This decision has already proven to have saved thousands of lives. Andre also lauded government’s scientific approach to ‘flattening the curve’. He urged participants to keep abreast of news regarding current trajectories of the virus’s spread, and in particular, to follow the latest updates from government’s Covid-19 advisory committee chairman, Professor Salim Abdool Karim.

Lessons from history

Andre referred to a recent online presentation he gave, together with local historian and author, Dr Dean Allen. This presentation explores comparative lessons from the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, in which South Africa’s mortality rate was the fifth highest in the world. A key lesson from this twentieth-century pandemic was that South Africa lifted its quarantine restrictions too soon, resulting in a significantly higher number of deaths.

Andre said it was vital that people, “don’t take the virus lightly”, especially  as the nation now looks towards a lifting of lockdown, or at least a gradual easing of its restrictions. Echoing President Cyril Ramphosa’s words that we should emerge from the Covid-19 crisis with a positive, new focus on “fundamental reconstruction”, Andre outlined key points to help people adjust to the new reality, with stronger resolve.

Take personal responsibility

Given that it is likely that social distancing will become part of our ‘new normal’, Andre urged people to be part of the solution, and to take personal responsibility. Geolocation technology in cellphones has been shown to be effective in containing localized breakouts of the virus. Transmission rates can be traced, tracked and effectively stopped with early isolation. Andre’s advice: “Take your cellphone with you. It could save your life”.

Look after your health

Research shows that Covid-19 is more virulent in people with weakened or compromised immune systems. Andre emphasized that people take care of their health and wellbeing, and encouraged people to act on the advice offered by experts in dealing with stress, anxiety and depression. He referred to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s widely-recognised ‘Five stages of grief’ model, and the consideration – in light of the impacts of Covid19 – of a possible, additional sixth stage: that of anticipatory grief, as people mourn the loss of life and livelihood before it happens.

Reboot your mind, body and soul

Likening the human experience to a DSTV Explora, which has to be reset following a storm or inclement weather, Andre asked that we take the time to ‘reboot’ ourselves. Essentially, that we accept that, in the current conditions, we have no other choice except to move forward. He said there was an all-important way we can do this:

Make your circle bigger

In Andre’s words, “You are only as powerful as the people you surround yourself with”, so be powerful. Reach out with goodwill to people whom you know may be feeling fearful and afraid. Lift them up. And stay in contact.

Next, Andre referenced ‘The Rule of 150’, coined by British anthropologist, Robin Dunbar and made popular by award-winning business author Malcolm Gladwell in his book, The Tipping Point.  Essentially, the number 150 represents the optimum number of individuals with whom a human being can form an authentic social relationship. Andre’s advice is to establish, and to re-establish, these relationships because they are the ones we can genuinely count on. In times of crisis, and beyond.

Rebooting ourselves to be more compassionate; preparing ourselves to imaginatively reframe and reinvent our businesses, our communities and our environment – this is the opportunity Andre tells us is ours for the seizing.

It’s a powerful, positive call for action. Who can refuse it? If you’ve missed the webinar, please watch it here.

If you would like to join Wirecard Solutions South Africa’s two remaining webinars in its series, ‘Reset, Restore, Renew’, please book here