The so-called “new normal” in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic is hotly debated among people all over the world. As is natural, people have varying visions of how we should recover and recuperate. Still, the main sentiment that runs through all these opposing ideologies is that we have to move forward somehow. Merrill Chandler shares what he believes the new normal should be post-COVID-19. We might be staggered at the various ways the world changes after we’ve somehow mitigated the pandemic, but we’ve got to roll with those punches. The new normal has to be one where we collectively move forward into a future with more kindness, compassion, outreach, and safety.

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Forget The “New Normal”

We’re going to be talking about the new normal. Will there be a new normal? How do we address the new normal in our lives, both individually and our response to this oncoming or onslaught of a recession?

The Power Of This Pandemic

There’s been a lot going on that’s been triggering positive experiences and what is happening here when it comes to the new normal. First of all, I’d like to update some of the information sources that we’ve been giving you at least 2 or 3 times a week. Let’s take a look at this and understand the power of this pandemic and the next domino, which is the recession and how it’s been impacting us. At the time I did this episode, another 3.2 million people filed for unemployment. That total is for the weeks beginning of the shutdown. There have been over 33 million and that is a significant number of people. The weekly numbers have been declining since the seven million claims that were in that last period of March that we reported, and that was the peak.

Every week, there are less, even though it’s gargantuan. For example, in February before the pandemic, there were about 200,000 people a week filing for unemployment. That sounds like a lot but as a percentage, it’s very low. The economy was more robust and so people were coming in the pipeline and then leaving the pipeline as they found new opportunities for employment. Here’s the challenge. We say 3.2 million, the thing is the monthly job report that’s coming out from the Department of Labor. The 8th of May will record the month of April’s total unemployment rate. It’s expected to be likely significantly over 15%. That is Depression-era numbers. Twenty-five percent was the biggest unemployment percentage in the nation. Remember, there were significantly tens of millions fewer people in the United States.

On the individual impact to individual persons and families, this means that there are tens of millions more individuals who have been affected by the virus, the contraction and the tsunami of recession. That’s approaching. The Depression level era means that the max was 25%, but it went 10%, 15% all the way up. It took literally dozens of years to move us past the high point of 25%. If it comes in at 19%, 20%, 22%, this is going to be a big deal. We’ll be reporting once again so we can take a firm look of what the monthly numbers come in at because they’re far more accurate and take more into account.

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A study by the Economic Policy Institute found that roughly 50% more people that have filed claims in the four-week work period qualify for benefits. That means 50% of the people are not being represented as unemployed because they didn’t try because the process was too formidable or they got stymied because of the sheer amount of time it takes. Remember, the system was not designed to process millions of people per week. Hundreds of thousands, I don’t know, but let’s say a million a week, but not 3.2 to 6.9 million people per week. It wasn’t designed for that. Not only is the system showing its tolerances of how much it can handle, but the study showed that there are 50% more people that are unemployed could receive benefits if they went through the entire process.

Fifty percent more when we’re sitting at a minimum of 15%, that’s 23%. If our numbers come in at 20% of unemployment and 50% more haven’t even filed for benefits, the economy is not being moved forward by all of us contributing way higher than 25%. This is significant. Two hundred thousand people, it’s very different. We’re an order of a magnitude and a half of people applying for benefits now than before this started. There are some more facts. In the weeks before the pandemic, states around the country, before they started issuing lockdowns, we were already starting to spend less, we were starting to travel less and dine out less. Remember that the lockdowns didn’t come for 2, 3 and in some states, 4 weeks after they closed down the cruise lines. Before that, people started withdrawing.

We need to remember this because this is part of what we’re talking about in the new normal. People started withdrawing or contracting not going out as much, not traveling as much, and spending less. In many states, while the lockdown orders are still legally in place, the enforcement orders are still there. Economic data shows that there are businesses, workers, and consumers that are already going back to the old normal routines. We’ve had several states say, “We’re talking days, not weeks, to lift the shelter in place orders, the sequester orders or the no travel orders. There are many people whose businesses are technically reopening when there are still shelter in place orders.

As Fundable As Possible

This brings us to number two. One of the things that we talked about here is that even in Utah, there was a rally at the Capitol building. The range was broad. This is a FAKO virus, to use our credit score parlance. Conspiratorial out there are saying that it’s just a ruse. This is just a manipulation by big pharma. I don’t weigh on any of these things. If the country is going to shut down, I help my clients be fundable. That’s as far into the politics or ideology that I get. My job is to make sure whatever’s happening, you are as fundable as possible.

AYF 94 | New Normal

New Normal: The economy was more robust, so people were coming into the pipeline and then leaving as they found new opportunities.


We go from the ultra-conservative saying that we’re being played all the way to the people saying that, “Be free. It’s not as bad as we think.” There are places and times that we don’t know all the facts. There were almost 2,000 people all gathered, no mask, no social distancing, no nothing. The signs literally said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” The whole gambit was there. Everybody was saying that it’s not necessary. I’m a hermit because I live in my own space and I work in my own space. I support and love and take care of my loved ones for my own space. I don’t have to weigh in on these things. It’s not my jam.

Also in the State of Utah, the numbers were declining. In our cases, we’ve now had a spike. This is in our news outlets here locally, exactly two weeks after this gathering, we now have a spike in cases. The reason why I bring that up is not to say one thing or another about the people who have gathered. What it says is that our actions create an effect. We’re all responsible for creating an effect. If we got a spike in cases here, then that means that the downtrend is now temporary. The downtrend was simply meaning the new normal requires that we be deliberate. Outside my home, I overlook the Salt Lake Valley and the street in front of my house is a very popular biking and jogging street because it’s beautiful. You get to see the entire valley for miles around. It’s the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. People go through here and it’s absolutely beautiful. It’s the reason why I live here.

The thing is that people are walking by the front of my house with masks on, even though they’re with their companion, their jogging buddies or whatever. The new normal is even though there are businesses that continue to open, the people have varying degrees of support. They’re like, “Give me liberty or give me death,” or they’re social distancing to an extreme. Let me tell you a story about extreme. One of my friends, he was one of our first team members at Lexington Law in 1992. He’s the brother of one of our founders. He had an amazing thing to share with me because he came down with COVID-19 and his effects were in the pneumonia category. He was being treated with the new leprosy.

He was cured and he got a clean bill of health. It took him ten days and he was cleared of all contagion. The thing is what he wrote to me about. He said, “If you feel to share it, Merrill, share it.” He follows me on social. He was saying that the bubonic plague level, the Middle Ages level response is still true. We have the cavalier on one end and then we’ve got the people who are afraid to breathe the air. They’re in their cars by themselves and still wearing a mask. I’m not saying one thing or another. There’s a huge range of response to what’s going on. Where there’s not a huge response is the level of compassion and kindness that are being displayed to people who may have been part of the contagion, that have been infected and are recovering or even have recovered.

The new normal better include more kindness, more compassion, more outreach, and more safety #GetFundable Click To Tweet

Being a social pariah, being pushed away, being considered like you have the air equivalent of leprosy. One of the great teachers of all time, his ministry was about the infected with a number of social or physical diseases. I’m not saying you have to go and have everybody breathe on you. I’m saying if we’re not willing to be compassionate, then this is demonstrating to us who we are. If the new normal doesn’t mean more loving, more compassionate, more willing to support and love and be kind, then what’s the point? Many of us describe our why. Part of our pivot that we’ve been talking about for a month now, pivot hard and find the opportunities.

We had an entire episode on what does your why mean now. I want to have the time and resources, I get a passive income and I get to coach my children’s soccer, football, basketball teams. That’s my why. Right now, there’s not a lot of soccer team things going on. What’s your next why? What’s your Z? May I even propose? What comes after Y? If it doesn’t include compassion, love and kindness, then your why and my why are completely meaningless. I have $1 billion and I’m not more kind, more benevolent, more open, but less judgmental, less prejudiced, less caring. If our why doesn’t include those character traits, then we have missed the entire point of this pandemic or any pandemic.

What is the point if social distancing means alienation? I don’t believe they’re mutually exclusive. You can be socially distanced, but you don’t have to alienate anybody, especially those who believe differently than you do. It was so funny to watch because they had a demonstration on TV and stuff like that. You’ve got two radically different groups of people all co-mingling for the same purpose. I don’t believe this thing is real or I don’t care that it’s real. Give me liberty or give me death. What is the new normal? No government reopening is going to make people feel safe. In those states, COVID may continue to traipse along like this. In social distancing, I’m encouraging don’t alienate. Be wise but be harmless and be kind.

Healthy, Wealthy, And Wise

There were the signs of a contraction before the states drew down hard lines because people don’t want to be harmed by whatever malady or thought, idea, belief, sickness or otherwise. Most of us want to take care of ourselves and our own. Be healthy, wealthy and wise. It starts out with healthy. We’re protecting ourselves. Where does protecting yourself move into being mean or dismissive or pushing people away who may have been less fortunate? You have a job, they don’t. Does that make them less vital as a human being than you?

AYF 94 | New Normal

New Normal: The new normal is that even though there are businesses that continue to open, the people give and receive varying degrees of support.


One of my team members was sharing with me. We have one-on-ones every month with each one of our team members. One of my team members was talking about what I shared with her which was survivor guilt. She’s a twenty-something and she was comparing that people going to school aren’t going to school and they’re studying online. There’s relatively little social engagement. Her friends have been laid off, had not been hired back or they’ve been furloughed. They’re the part of the group that aren’t even qualifying for unemployment because they have zero-hour schedules that we’ve talked about before. They haven’t been formally laid off even and they are miserable. They’re having a horrible time and she’s part of an organization that knows how to pivot.

She’s part of an organization that is literally the gatekeeper to the growth opportunity for all these millions of small businesses, the gatekeeper to funds and funding. She’s like, “I love what I’m doing. I love what’s going on. I talked to my friends and they are hurting.” I call it feeling a little survivor guilt. Four people in a car crash, three don’t survive, one does. Why me? Why do I get to survive? How do I take care? How do I relate to? How do I treat my friends when I’m talking to them on the phone or Zoom because they can’t do anything else yet? I’ve said it a dozen times, I’ll say it a dozen more. If you’re open to it, if you’re willing to let me show you your blind side like you get to show me mine. Are you willing to open your heart, open your mind, and take care of you and your loved ones and do everything possible to take care of those around you? Give them the leg up, give them an opportunity. How do you talk to them so that your heart is compassionate and full for their plight, for their experience?

We have 15%-plus unemployed and 50% more that are unemployed but haven’t registered. We have no clue who they are. This is no bueno as a country. Not the unemployed part. We’ll always do this. Our attitude towards them and the influence that we have as we look out, sitting among our friends and our families. I want each one of us to take a deep look. There is a new normal. That new normal better include more kindness, more compassion, more outreach, safer otherwise, more love and more opportunity. My friend who sent me a message on Facebook said, “I’m cured. I now have antibodies. I can’t get infected again. I’ve been shunned because people are afraid.” I don’t judge your fear, but is there more for us? That’s what the new normal includes for me. Think of it as cautious and compassionate. They are not mutually exclusive. Please take care, be wise and be kind.

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