Supply Chain Now Episode 450

“In truth, no catastrophic disruptions will not change the world forever. They may change people’s perceptions of the world for their forever. It may cause people to change their and actions and perceptions for their forever, but ultimately more of those people will move out and the collective memory will be altered more proportionally represented by those with less memory and less impact to their psyche of these events.”

-Greg White, Host, TECHquila Sunrise

The ‘TECHquila Sunrise’ Series on Supply Chain Now shares the latest investments, acquisitions, innovations, and glorious implosions in Supply Chain Tech every week. If you are looking for a podcast about ‘so-and-so signed a contract with such and such,’ or ‘they just released version 20 of that same technology you didn’t buy last year,’ this is the wrong podcast for you. But if you are looking for real news and innovation, welcome to the Sunrise.

Greg White (00:00):

Hey this week on tequila, sunrise, I am thinking about COVID and nine 11 and what we can learn from that and why our memory is so short. It’s not a downer. I swear it’s a great learning opportunity. So join me. And let’s talk about that. I’d really appreciate you sharing some time with you.

Greg White (01:11):

Time to wake up to tequila, sunrise we’re unfortunately, without the aid of tequila, we opened your eyes to how startups and venture investing techs focused on supply chain tech every week, this unholy hour of the day, if you want a taste of how tech startup growth and investment has done, join me every Thursday for another blinding tequila, sunrise, Greg white here from supply chain. Now I am always happy, never satisfied, willing to acknowledge reality, but refusing to be bound by it. My goal is to inform, enlighten and inspire you in your own supply chain tech journey. Hey, in case you’re listening in supply chain now main channel, you should know, you need to subscribe to tequila, sunrise, wherever you get, your podcasts will only be in the mainstream for a couple of weeks more. Go subscribe to tequila sunrise today. So you don’t miss a thing.

Greg White (02:13):

Hey, this week, we’re really only going to have one topic. We’re not going to talk about the supply chain tech stock index. We’re not going to talk about the deals of the week. We’re not even going to talk about what I was originally going to talk about, which was how to get a job in supply chain tech. You know, this week on Friday is September 11th, and I didn’t start out to make this episode, but it just struck me again, as it does about every year where I was on September 11th and what I was doing. So I’m going to share a little bit of that with you and try to make it relevant to something we can learn about prevention recovery, and from nine 11, and maybe even something we can learn about tech. I can’t guarantee it though, as it turns out 2001 was a, a recession year and bubble had just burst and like the genius that I am, I, I decided I would start a company and I was in New York, working with a company called Henry shine consulting on their supply chain and helping to build a technology to help them improve, uh, some critical elements of their supply chain.

Greg White (03:35):

We had just started working there in August. We’re about a month into things just getting settled in and putting some projects together to help their team become more effective coordinating with some of their European entities to onboard them because they had just been acquired. And I was working in my office and my wife called me and said, Hey, a plane just flew in to one of the twin towers. And honestly, what I thought was, uh, it happens from time to time, some idiot in a one 72 gets off course, isn’t paying attention, who knows it’s just a terrible pilot and hits a building. It has happened before in New York. And that’s what I thought. And I went to ABC on my laptop and was talking through it with my wife, Vicky. And as we were talking about it, the second plane hit the other tower.

Greg White (04:35):

And it was in that moment that I knew something bad was happening. Uh, she and I talked and a little bit more and I suggested that she get the kids and get them out of school. And it was pretty clear that it was not a one 72. Uh, then we, we got off the phone and kept touch a little bit. And because Henry Schein was a medical supply company and the news hit pretty quickly. We started turning around trucks that had left the distribution centers and they opened, they had closed all of the bridges and tunnels onto Manhattan, but they opened them back up for Henry Schein trucks to bring medical supplies back onto the Island. Many of which were never used. Of course, there weren’t many survivors in the effected areas. So my father called from Arizona. My sister was going to NYU and we had lost touch with her.

Greg White (05:32):

And NYU is near the area. So he was worried. And of course he, he suggested that I try to give her a call, which I did, but of course cell coverage was not good. First. Everyone was on their phone. And then secondly, of course, many of the towers were in many of the cell repeaters and antenna we’re in the twin towers. So when they went down, so did cell coverage and many other things, I was there for a few days after that. And I had told the folks that I was working with at first chance, I got, of course I was on long Island. Their office is in Melville. So we were waiting for the bridges to open for anyone to leave the Island. And, you know, I told the executive team there that as soon as the bridges did open, I was heading out.

Greg White (06:28):

My daughter’s birthday is September 15th. And there was no way I was missing that even for a national catastrophe. I got up every hour on the day, the night that they said that it looked like the bridges would be opening. And as soon as I got the word, the bridges were opening, got my rental car loaded up with provisions, a little bit panicked, but loaded up with provisions and started heading out around. I think it was around four o’clock in the morning. Fortunately, the car that I got was a white Ford, crown Victoria. So I didn’t have any trouble with pace. Of course there was nobody on the road that time of the day. And even then there were very few people on the road. Even the next morning I got in the left lane, went a hundred miles an hour through New York, New Jersey, all state, South Washington, DC, barely saw vehicles on the road until I got South to about Charlotte.

Greg White (07:31):

When I got there, there were a lot of people exchanging cars, jumping from one car to another, trying to get to their destination from whoever they had connected with before strangely where I stopped, nobody was on their way to Atlanta. So I continued on down to Atlanta and when I hit Atlanta, it was as if nothing had ever happened. The traffic was bumper to bumper. People were going about their day. And this was two, two, maybe three days later, people were going about their day. Pretty normally I remember because it took 14 hours and 57 minutes and two hours of that roughly thousand mile trip. We’re in the Atlanta Metro area where I just happened to hit the city in rush hour. And traffic was just incredible. You know, what made me think about all of this was one of the big sayings to come out of nine 11 was never forget.

Greg White (08:30):

And many still say, never forget, but too soon, it seems too many did. And I feel like this and other Le lessons are applicable today. For instance, as we talk about COVID now, right? So many say the world is forever changed by COVID. And I can’t say that’s untrue, but that’s not to say that humans are forever changed by it. We can study experience with previous catastrophes and see in many cases, but there’s much we can learn from that. We do very often forget. Uh, let me tell you what I mean, my great grandparents and grandparents both went through the great depression and the dust bowl. So in the Midwest of the U S Kansas in particular, there were seven years of drought, devastating drought and dust storms frequently, very little to no rain for seven years. And that had a big, big impact. My great grandparents always said, clean your plate and things like don’t get your hopes up too much.

Greg White (09:43):

They may be dashed. Imagine how many times their hopes might’ve been dashed in seven years when there’s drought, then there’s not, then there’s more drought. Then there’s a dust storm that wipes away all the top soil. So you can’t grow anything or Barry’s farm implements and homes and people. And just about the time they get dug out here comes another one. So it was a very prevalent point of view for a certain generation. But what I realized even then was that there were different outlooks between my great grandparents who were parents during that time. And my grandparents who were kids during that time, think about things like the Holocaust. Some say it never happened, right? They deny that it ever happened. And as I said, we promised to never forget nine 11. And yet it took us less than 10 years for us to dismiss Al-Qaida as a threat to the U S.

Greg White (10:41):

And in fact, it took us an accumulation of terrorist incidents to motivate the U S to locate and eliminate Osama bin Ladin. So why, why do we forget? We have many catastrophic disruptions throughout time, and you’d think we’d learn the lesson to be on the lookout or be diligent, or to learn the lessons of those things forever. A catastrophic disruption may change people forever, or at least change some people’s outlook for ever that don’t get your hopes up. Never left my great grandparents, but it took seven years of drought and famine to embed that outlook and just some of the population. So catastrophe doesn’t change all people forever. And it definitely doesn’t change the world forever. Why not? Well, my theory is that human memory is very short. And, and why is human memory short? What happens to the heightened awareness that inevitably comes after the great recession after nine 11 after the 1987 stock market crash.

Greg White (11:54):

After the depression, after the Vietnam war, after a multitude of, of events have impacted much of, or maybe the entire world, why don’t we maintain memory of these catastrophic events? Consider this. I lived this with nine 11 in, in the living generations of any crisis. You can break it down into roughly three means of experiencing a catastrophic event. It’s experience for some it’s life, changing life, altering a personal impact and experience for some portion of, of the population. It’s a current event for the younger generation. It’s something you study. It’s something your parents felt, but largely shielded you from as much as they could and something that in your particular age range, maybe you’re not able to contemplate completely. And for the youngest generation it’s history in nine 11, 2001, I had a 10 year old. I had a four year old and my wife was eight months pregnant.

Greg White (13:12):

So we had one who barely contemplated it 10 years old, one who didn’t contemplate it at all. And one who was born after the event happened. So for at least the two youngest, it was really that history type event. It didn’t impact them in as visceral away as it did my wife and I, or their grandparents. Those most impacted by the experience. If you think about it, have the least time left in active society in the workplace in media influence and in life. And therefore the collective memory of humankind is relatively short. Let’s examine where we are today. Let’s not kid ourselves. We’re living in a reflection of history that many should remember right now, the eighties banking crisis and stock crash, many of the same conditions in the stock market and the economy exists. There’s no way to deny that yet. We also don’t know, is it different?

Greg White (14:15):

Is it the same? Is it close enough? Are we in denial? What can we do? Even if it is, and, and if we can, should we do anything? When, when these sorts of situations occur, we certainly can’t let fear grip us. We need to, as best we can acknowledge and try to relate to history, but that’s really difficult to do again because of that collective short memory. And also because I think people are eternally, right? It seems we must experience things to see possibilities as real, and even then memory fades. So we really must experience things in the moment to see them as real. We are at least eternally optimistic and maybe even subconsciously in denial that such catastrophic disruptions can occur. What do we do? Well, I believe that we must acknowledge the faded memory concept as a human shortcoming and attempt to compensate for that.

Greg White (15:28):

So consider what’s available to us today. What can we apply to a solution that won’t forget to expect or predict or prevent or deal with catastrophic disruption? Think about this predictive analytics and AI were honed on preventing terrorism after nine 11. And particularly after Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, we use these technologies to monitor activity on social networks, in communication and in movement patterns of human beings to predict the likelihood of the next terrorist to strike it worked. In fact, we stopped a number of terrorist incidents post nine 11. And it’s how I got the idea for predicting customer purchases based on indicative activity. In fact, I’ve used this many times in, uh, in sales discussions. It sounds crazy now, but consumer terrorists, right? We’re trying to predict the next time that a consumer will terrorize a retailer by buying too much of a particular good toilet paper is a great example.

Greg White (16:47):

More people would have done better if they had been predicting the customer, rather than trying to predict the item by the way. But that’s another, that’s a whole other episode we can learn from this and we can impart things like technology to act on our behalf. Look the old saying by Winston Churchill, those who failed to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. It’s proven again and again. And in fact that statement was not originally said by Churchill, but history is a little bit faded on who actually said it for the first time will catastrophic disruptions change the world forever to some, it will feel like it to some, it will feel less like it, but in truth, no catastrophic disruptions will not change the world forever. They may change people’s perceptions of the world for their forever. It may cause people to change their and actions and perceptions for their forever, but ultimately more of those people will move out and the collective memory will be altered more proportionally represented by those with less memory and less impact to their psyche of these events.

Greg White (18:08):

And that is how we continue to fall into these traps. If you want to call them that, what I believe is we must use our capability to impart the lessons of history into unemotional. Databanks if you will, that never forget or minimize or misinterpret the conditions of the past unemotional tool sets that don’t fall into denial, that don’t try to rationalize, that don’t have to make themselves feel better about the future. By in some cases ignoring the realities of the past. These mechanisms can be effective alerts to awaken us to potential danger, to enlighten us to potential solutions and to enable us to recover and boost resilience for the future. I’m hopeful that this is helpful for folks there, but the truth is we need to identify how we can be more predictive, more preventive, more responsive, more resilient in these kinds of situations. And I believe it’s virtually impossible for us as human beings to do that.

Greg White (19:22):

We need some technology to help us do that and overcome these kinds of situations that the challenges periodically these we keep talking about, especially in supply chain, that these disruptions are going to continue to come. We should use those opportunities to continue to learn and to continue to create a knowledge base that can continue to get better at predicting or preventing, or at least responding and recovering to these things. So, you know, I always encourage you to acknowledge reality, but never be bound by it. And I implore you on September 11th, at least to never forget. Thank you. All right. That’s all you need to know about supply chain tech for this week. Don’t forget to get to supply chain now, for more supply chain now, series interviews and events. And now we have two live streams per week. The most popular live show in supply chain, supply chain buzz every Monday at noon Eastern time with Scott Luton, the master enemy, plus our Thursday live stream to be named later where we bring you whatever the hell we want. Like a few weeks ago, when we interviewed our producer clay, the dog

Greg White (20:48):

Phillips. Thanks for spending your valuable time with me and remember acknowledge reality, but never be bound by it.

Would you rather watch the show in action?  Watch as Greg introduces you to TECHquila Sunrise through our YouTube channel.

Greg White serves as Principal & Host at Supply Chain Now. Greg is a founder, CEO, board director and advisor in B2B technology with multiple successful exits. He recently joined Trefoil Advisory as a Partner to further their vision of stronger companies by delivering practical solutions to the highest-stakes challenges. Prior to Trefoil, Greg served as CEO at Curo, a field service management solution most notably used by Amazon to direct their fulfillment center deployment workforce. Greg is most known for founding Blue Ridge Solutions and served as President & CEO for the Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader of cloud-native supply chain applications that balance inventory with customer demand. Greg has also held leadership roles with Servigistics, and E3 Corporation, where he pioneered their cloud supply chain offering in 1998. In addition to his work at Supply Chain Now and Trefoil, rapidly-growing companies leverage Greg as an independent board director and advisor for his experience building disruptive B2B technology and supply chain companies widely recognized as industry leaders. He’s an insightful visionary who helps companies rapidly align vision, team, market, messaging, product, and intellectual property to accelerate value creation. Greg guides founders, investors and leadership teams to create breakthroughs that gain market exposure and momentum, and increase company esteem and valuation. Learn more about Trefoil Advisory:

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