In this special episode of Industry Focus: Wildcard, Emily Flippen chats with T.J. Piggott about what you can do to stay connected with friends and family, remain positive while following social distancing guidelines responsibly, and maintain physical and mental health. Also, they offer some tips on how you can utilize the surplus time some of us have been afforded and much more.
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This video was recorded on March 25, 2020.
Emily Flippen: It's Wednesday, March 25, and I'm your host, Emily Flippen. Today is a special day not just because it's a Wild Card Wednesday but because we're actually going to take this podcast in a whole different direction this week.
Joining me today to talk about all the things that you can do while you're bunkered under quarantine is analyst T.J. Piggott. T.J., thank you so much for joining me today. How are you doing?
T.J. Piggott: I'm doing well. How are you doing, Emily?
Flippen: I'm doing well myself, as well as we can do given the fact that we are, for the most part, all being held captive in our homes or apartments, lofts, wherever you may be. But this episode was actually your suggestion. We had planned something else, but you came back and you had a good idea about, kind of, disconnecting from all the noise. So what made you want to talk about the topic we're going to talk about today versus everything we're hearing about coronavirus?
Piggott: Yes. So I don't know about you or our members, but I know for me, the constant bombardment of what's going on with the crisis and all the negativity surrounding it is starting to become a little stressful. On top of that, we have social distancing, and in a lot of places also people have stricter shelter-in-place orders, so even less social interactions. And we're social creatures, so it just magnifies the stress.
So I figured what we should do is, it would be a good time to just take a step back away from all the noise that's going on and try to focus on some positive things that we could be doing during the crisis.
Flippen: Yeah, I really think it's so important to everybody's mental health, and especially our listeners, because they are investors, and investors are always trying to be looking out for the next best thing. But it's important to remember what's important in life. It's not always trying to find the best new opportunity. And the same, I think, principle applies to investing.
So the big question we've been getting from our members, and we've been doing a ton of live streams for our backend members here at The Fool, but the question that I get every single day and I'm sure you see it too, T.J., is what do I buy and when do I buy? A lot of people are still interested in equities because of this downturn and because we haven't seen prices like this in the market for so long. But if and when this downturn continues, and it has the potential to continue for months, I think that's when the real fear sets in for people. So I like the idea that you had for this episode, T.J., because if that happens, if we're weeks in and months in and the stock market has continued to plummet in response to COVID-19, I want people to have the ability to come back to this episode and reground themselves and what really matters and potentially remind themselves that it's no time to panic.
Piggott: Yes, Emily. So a lot of our members are asking for what they should be invested in now, and I think that's great for a long-term mindset, but I also believe that there's members out there who are nervous as well. And that thinking, that's what really inspired me to do this segment about what we could be doing now that's away from the investment part of it, the economy, and the crisis noise that we're hearing on a day-to-day basis.
Flippen: Yeah, so without further ado, let's give some practical advice to our listeners, not necessarily about what they should be buying but what they should be doing. I am an introvert. I've always said that I could be locked in a room for a month alone, and as long as I have my cat and an internet connection, I'd probably be fine. But I think even I'm starting to lose it in this environment.
So what's something our listeners can do right now to improve the connections that they have with the people in their lives other than, obviously, listening to Industry Focus?
Piggott: So I'm going to go to the old-school way of just picking up a phone and making a phone call to a friend or a loved one. And if you happen to be tech savvy, you might want to do some FaceTime or some Zoom (ZM -3.49%) for that matter. Like I said, we're social creatures, and social distancing, although it's necessary now for the greater good, it's unnatural and very unhealthy. So I think it's important to stay connected and maybe even reconnecting with people. I think that's a really powerful tool that can be beneficial for our health and especially during these difficult times.
Flippen: Yeah, I know I quite literally just said, no stock talk for this episode, but I'm going to break the rules a little bit, because you mentioned Zoom. Really, you broke the rules, because you mentioned Zoom first. [laughs] No. But it's a question that we're getting a lot from our members, so I'd love to address it, and I don't think Industry Focus has really taken a dive into Zoom recently.
Zoom has really had an incredible run since the outbreak of COVID-19. Zoom is a platform that allows you to video chat, and while it's mainly been used in video settings, a lot more people are using it socially. I think, over the past five days, it's up nearly 50%. It really is crazy. So I know we use Zoom here at The Fool for work, but how do you use Zoom to stay connected, T.J.?
Piggott: Yeah. So I don't personally use Zoom outside of work, but I definitely find it very valuable in staying connected with fellow Fools, especially during this remote time that we're spending. I mean, how long have we been out now? We've been out remote for, I think, a couple of weeks now.
Flippen: Yeah, it's been awhile.
Piggott: It's been a really long time. And so it's been really nice to just be able to connect with people, just kind of have like, check in and say, "Hey, how are you doing?" It's not even like so much of doing, just structured meetings, it's mostly just about staying connected with people that you work with. But how about you, Emily? Have you been using Zoom? And also, by the way, I'm a shareholder of Zoom too, so I've definitely enjoyed this nice run-up we've had here lately. But, also, how about you -- have you used Zoom outside of work?
Flippen: Yeah. Actually, I never used it before this outbreak, but when the outbreak first happened, so the first two weeks of March, I was actually out of town, I was hiking with a wonderful group of women. And when I came back into town, obviously, I've been using Zoom a lot. We're using it right now to record Industry Focus, but we've also been using it for our livestreams and companywide meetings.
I was recently invited to a Zoom chat by the wonderful women I hiked with so we could all reconnect and play games. And while, unfortunately, I couldn't join, it was the first opportunity for me to use Zoom in a social setting. And it was interesting to see other people going out of their way to set up Zoom calls just purely for social reasons. So while the run-up that we've seen in Zoom is definitely insane, I do feel like there's a lot of opportunity there for Zoom right now.
I think it has done some amazing things to change our perspectives of connection in the world today, so it's not just webinars, it's not just work, it's really our lives. And, yeah, I see it, kind of, taking over that Skype market entirely. But, yeah, sorry, enough of the stocks, I will say, just apart from a stock perspective, if you're a listener and you're trying to stay connected with the people in your life, Zoom is a great free way to do that, so definitely check it out, it's a wonderful way to stay grounded in the world today.
But, T.J., I also know that it's not just Zoom, it's not just FaceTime, I know there are some bigger news out there. So for many Fools and listeners maybe who work in the finance space, beyond just the market. And I know this is something that you and I are entrenched in, T.J., that Chartered Financial Analyst, the CFA exams, that were supposed to be held in June have been canceled. I can only speak for myself here, but I know I have a sudden influx of time after that announcement, time that would have been spent studying that I now have free, which is wonderful. But what else have you been doing with this time, maybe this sudden influx of time that we all have now that we've been quarantined that you maybe would have spent studying?
Piggott: Yeah, sure. So you know, tough break for all the candidates, but I definitely believe that that was the right call by the institute. Health is most important, making sure that we protect everybody that's out there. But I don't know if you recall, Emily, I predicted a while ago that the exam would be cancelled.
So yeah, when I predicted that, I actually stopped studying at that time, so lucky for me, I guess. Since then, I've been spending more time with my family and doing fun dad stuff, like, playing catch and also going on isolated walks with our dog. So also, I've been able to get back to actually doing fun reading as opposed to study reading, which people out there know, there's a big difference between that. So it's been a nice treat.
And obviously, with studying and work, my wife had to shoulder a lot of the work around the house, so she's happy for me to get back to picking up some of the chores. So it's been nice.
Flippen: Yeah, that is nice. You mentioned going for isolated walks, that's one of the things that you've been doing with your time. Do you have any practical tips for what we all can do to stay healthy under quarantine? I can really only speak for myself, but I know in Maryland, gyms are closed. My local apartment gym is also closed. So yeah, what do we do to help stay grounded physically?
Piggott: Yeah, that's a great question. So let me lead off with my own little disclaimers, if you will. First off, I am not a health expert nor a doctor, so.
Flippen: You aren't?
Piggott: No, not at all. [laughs] So everything that I share is things that I'm doing, so maybe you can get some inspiration for things that I'm doing that might be able to be built into your daily lives during this crisis. So first off, before I say anything that I'm doing, I would urge everybody that's listening to follow the guidance and orders that are given by your state and local governments, as well as, follow the CDC and Federal guidance. I think it's really important to be listening to what we're being asked to do as citizens so we can bend the curve.
So with that, as I mentioned, I go on isolated walks with our dogs. You know, it gets the blood flowing. It's nice to get out and have some fresh air. Sometimes, I get some sun. It's raining right now here in Alexandria, so today is not so fun to walk, but nonetheless, it's nice to get outside and get some fresh air. I also am going for bike rides as well to get my heart rate up and get the blood moving as well. But essentially, in general, my goal is just to keep moving, because we sit at a desk all day, and it's really easy for me to sit at home and do work and then go upstairs and eat dinner and sit on the couch and watch TV. So I think it's important just to stay active in this time where we're isolated.
Also, with that, I do body-weight strength exercises and try to build some cardio while I'm doing that. I don't have an at-home gym, so I make do with what I can. I have my body weight, so that works. And also, there's tons of free workout videos on the internet where you can just click and play and watch. Like I said, it's all free, or a lot of them are free. So I would encourage people to try to do that as well.
As far as what I'm putting in my body right now. I'm trying to avoid eating processed food and takeout as much as possible, but I get it, you know, it's hard right now, especially because the grocery stores are kind of running bare, so you do what you have to do, but try to incorporate healthy food as much as possible in your life, especially while we're in quarantine, that's really good.
As I said, we've talked about this, it's a stressful situation, but also, I'm trying to be cognizant for that matter of alcoholic beverages I'm drinking too. It doesn't fix the problem. Sure, you might want to have one just to take a little edge off, but I'm being cognizant about how much alcohol I'm drinking. I'm trying to get plenty of sleep, because that's the time when your body has the time to shut down and gear up, and especially it takes the stress out of your body; at least for me it does.
And then last but not the least, you know, I'm hugging my family and telling them I love them. You know, at this point in time, family is important. Those are the things that matter the most, at least, in my life and so I'm trying to be thankful for what I have. And just know that there will be a better day ahead, hopefully in the not too distant future.
Flippen: Yeah, you really set some lofty goals there, I'll try and live up to --
Piggott: [laughs] ... sorry. And to be honest, I can't meet all of them either, you know, I'm a human, I'm flagging them as well. I don't adhere to everything, but just try to do as much as you can.
Flippen: Yeah, maybe I'll just do my best to limit the wine and takeout to just Friday nights, right? [laughs]
Piggott: There you go.
Flippen: But I do have one last question before you wrap up here, T.J., and I don't want this to end on a dark note, even though this question may sound like it, but practically, how long do you think, we, as a society, can exist under a lockdown?
Piggott: That's a tough question. So you know, much like trying to predict what the stock market is going to do tomorrow and next week and next month and even next year, the answer is, I just don't know, and I wish I did. I think what's important right now is to remind everyone that people are resilient, and we're very capable of overcoming immense obstacles that are thrown at us. And so this is the time in history where the whole world is being confronted by one, and it's great to see people of different beliefs and backgrounds coming together just to try to combat this, and so I think that's really positive.
I think what we just need to be constantly doing as citizens is to be, like I said, listen to the health experts as to what they're instructing us to do so we could bend this curve, so we can get back to normal life as soon as possible.
Flippen: Well, T.J., I really appreciate you coming on and joining me for this conversation. Again, I think it's so wonderful that we'll have this as, hopefully, a reminder to all of our listeners to stay grounded and what really matters and what's important in life. And I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to come remind us of that.
So listeners, that does it for this episode of Industry Focus. If you have any questions or just want to reach out and say, "Hi," you can always shoot us an email at IndustryFocus@Fool.com or tweet us @MFIndustryFocus. If you're looking for more of our podcasts, you can always subscribe on iTunes.
As always, people on the program may own companies discussed on the show, and The Motley Fool may have formal recommendations for or against any stocks mentioned, so don't buy or sell anything based solely on what you hear.
Thanks to Austin Morgan for his work behind the screen today. For T.J. Piggott, I'm Emily Flippen. Thanks for listening, and Fool on!