Dear <<First Name>>,

It's been a surreal time. Last week, my company Barrel went into full crisis mode as clients left and right called or emailed to cancel engagements or request delays and payment deferrals. We managed to get through the week, but we had to make some tough decisions and have some hard conversations. We're bracing ourselves for more challenges ahead.

Keeping things in perspective, we're in a lucky spot. We're still able to operate as a business and there's still demand for the work we do. I feel terrible for folks who're unable to work and don't have much of a safety net to fall back on. Even worse for those also suffering from limited healthcare at this time.

As the coronavirus crisis continues to unfold here in the US, I hope to keep a calm mind, think clearly, and be supportive of others. It'll be a big effort and that means taking good care of myself: eating well, sleeping well, getting exercise, and reading and writing whenever possible. I hope to share more on this in coming weeks. Would love to hear what kinds of routines you've established these days, especially if you live in an impacted area (which keeps growing every day). 

Last week's newsletter got a 49.7% open rate and the most-clicked link was my blog post The Upside of Having Struggled which I'm glad held up during this very tough week.

Confronting Asian-American Discrimination During the Coronavirus Crisis by Ed Park (New Yorker)
In the American mind, then, Japanese are clean, and the Chinese, with their weird, disease-incubating wildlife markets, are dirty. I don’t know where Koreans stand. The sleek, androgynous K-pop groups like BTS scan as “clean.” Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” is a mix of the immaculate (the Parks in their sleek modern house) and grimy (the Kims in their fumigated hovel). When “Parasite” won the Best Picture Oscar, I screamed—never in my life would I have imagined a Korean filmmaker winning the prize, even someone as great as Bong Joon-ho. That was less than a month ago. Now South Korea was grappling with the largest coronavirus outbreak outside China, thanks in part to a secretive Christian cult, and it’s as if all that national pride has been replaced by panic and embarrassment. Somehow “parasite” and “virus” feel related.

My Asian-American buddies and I have been sharing more and more stories of hostile anti-Asian-American acts across America in our group chats. It's disconcerting but unsurprising given this country's history with race. The lockdowns and quarantines across the country is probably helping to keep instances of hate crimes and discrimination down, but we'll see what happens when things get back to normal.

Common Enemies by Morgan Housel (blog post)
Beautifully written blog post about how a good way to navigate the coronavirus may not be pandemics or financial crises of the past but the country's experience with World War II. Housel talks about the shared experience, the unity that formed, and the monumental efforts of the private and public sectors to prepare the country for war. Could this be a more appropriate historical map for the crisis we're facing?

Housel leaves out any mention of the Japanese internment camps and the general racism Asian Americans faced back then. If WWII is indeed a historical map to reference, let's not forget that the same government that rose to the occasion also rounded up more than 127,000 Japanese-American citizens and took away their freedom.

Snacks Consumed During the Quarantine
I wanted to share a couple of snacks that's helped me get through some of these long days at home. One is Thai Rice Chips from Dang Foods. I've bought in bulk four flavors: Toasted Sesame, Savory Seaweed, Sriracha Spice, and Aged Cheddar. I would highly recommend the first two over the others.

The other snack is chocolate bars from Tony’s Chocolonely, a brand that promotes Fairtrade chocolate-making with a mission to end slavery in the cocoa industry. These large chocolate bars come in distinct, bright packaging. I've developed a fondness for their Dark Milk Pretzel Toffee 42% and their Milk Hazelnut 32%.

Have a favorite snack? Shoot me some tips.

My Personal Finance Stack 2020: Coronavirus Edition
I figured that since I wrote my previous finance stack blog posts (they can all be found on my homepage) during a bull market, it would be a good, sobering experience to write one during this downturn. I've seen my overall holdings come down by over 20% in the past few weeks. Luckily, I haven't done any panic-selling. In fact, I've added some more investments. I hope we all make sound financial decisions during a time when it's very easy to get swept up by fear and uncertainty. I provide zero financial advice, just a rundown of my own holdings and decisions.


P.S. You can check out my list of books read right here. My hope is to get a good mix of challenging reads with some that are entertaining, inspiring, and instructive.

If you like what you've read, please share with your friends. They can sign up for the list here. Also, I always welcome recommendations of any kind–books, podcasts, movies, etc.

About me: Peter Kang is co-founder of Barrel, a digital agency in New York City. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, son, and dog.
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