19 People around the World Share How They Prepare for a Post-COVID-19 World

Since its founding in 2015, impactmania always turns to the people who drive cultural, social, and economic impact. We now need their inspiration more than ever. We asked 19 impact makers how they are preparing for the new realities of a post-COVID-19 world.

Paola Ferrari’s personal and professional journey took her from a small town in Italy, to the United Nations, and to social entrepreneurship in STEM education and community regeneration. The platform developed by the non-profit she founded in a small village of Calabria, Italy (L’Accademia di Gagliato) has received mention by UNESCO and is now replicated in several countries. Paola is among the founders of the Equality Moonshot, an initiative aimed to balance global wealth allocation as a requisite to achieve the SDGs. Paola is also a member of FAB, Lamborghini’s Female Advisory Board, and a consultant for Automobili Lamborghini on matters of global sustainability.

June 2, 2020

Paksy Plackis-Cheng, founder of impactmania, speaks weekly with colleague Paola Ferrari.

What is your advice for preparing for post-COVID-19?

One thing during this crisis, especially in the beginning, really struck me: most of the models, coming from highly reputed sources, projections and predictions, didn’t pan out. What we have been facing was highly mysterious and wildly uncertain in its unraveling. Opinions and hidden agendas swayed public attitudes, played with our fears and contributed to the mounting chaos.

I found truth in the definition that “algorithms are opinions encoded in numbers.” When faced with something we have no control over, predictions are worth very little — if not disorienting.

Arriving at those uncertain moments strong and resilient is what truly counts. I stopped paying attention to models and forecasts, and focused on what was actually happening. I lived the here and now of the tragedy hoping that some degree of humility in dealing with an unknown enemy could finally dawn on our leaders and direct their efforts in more effective ways. This is where I think women have it right: in general, we are better at setting our ego aside and deal humbly with challenges and concrete problems and come up with practical and effective solutions. It was no surprise to me that the countries that fared better during the pandemic were the ones led by women.

My advice for post-COVID-19? Tackle the new life and all its (un)foreseeable challenges, big and small, like a woman: with humility, by tuning in the needs of especially those most affected by this catastrophe, and co-create practical and farsighted solutions.

How is this crisis changing you? 

The Mantra had been with me for many years, but sixty days of actually practicing it made it finally second nature: Live in the here-and-now. Be aware of the privileges of having being born in the wealthiest part of the planet and forget about complaining of any inconvenience or sacrifice the situation might require of you. Strengthen your networks of change-makers, and leverage all your resources and skills to put them to better use to change the world and serve the underserved.

What will our story be post-COVID-19?

I will not be caught offering a prediction, after what I said! Reality keeps throwing wild cards at us, as the terrifying events of social and racial unrest in the United States are showing. Our story will be the one built on the suffering and drive to start anew of the young ‘COVID Generation.’ For sure, the BC (Before Corona) times are not times we want to ‘go back’ to – they were not good enough for most of the people on the planet—and for the planet itself. It is time to reimagine and reinvent a Brave, Green, Inclusive, and Prosperous New World. And to put more of the creative, generous, and talented young people in the drivers’ seats.

impactmania’s past interviews and programs have been featured in international media, a number of universities, the UN, U.S. Consulates, and have been cited by Harvard Business School, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, and Duke University Press. impactmania’s Women of Impact program was awarded the U.S. Embassy Public Diplomacy grant (2019).