One podcast I’ve enjoyed throughout this pandemic is The Osterholm Update: COVID-19 with Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. Every week, I tune in for his latest news and wisdom on the state of the pandemic, or perhaps more accurately, to find out yet again that first, things are still very bad; second, no one knows where they’re headed (and anyone who says they do “likely has a bridge to sell you,” according to Dr. Osterholm); and third, that I am thankfully not the only person on the planet still taking what many would call extreme COVID precautions.

He typically begins a podcast by sharing that each morning, he wakes up and tries scraping a tiny bit of mud off of his mud-encrusted crystal ball. When the Omicron variant emerged, he said someone had taken his mud-encrusted crystal ball and baked it in the oven for an hour at 350°.

This seems like a pretty accurate way to view the nature of making predictions – whether about COVID, the economy or even the future of the financial services industry – these days. And if that’s true, and the crystal balls we once relied on for an even fuzzy glimpse into the future are now useless, maybe it’s time to put predictions on pause and instead focus on planning for various possible outcomes, from decent to worst.

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Natasha Chilingerian

Natasha Chilingerian has been immersed in the credit union industry for over a decade. She first joined CU Times in 2011 as a freelance writer, and following a two-year hiatus from 2013-2015, during which time she served as a communications specialist for Xceed Financial Credit Union (now Kinecta Federal Credit Union), she re-joined the CU Times team full-time as managing editor. She was promoted to executive editor in 2019. In the earlier days of her career, Chilingerian focused on news and lifestyle journalism, serving as a writer and editor for numerous regional publications in Oregon, Louisiana, South Carolina and the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition, she holds experience in marketing copywriting for companies in the finance and technology space. At CU Times, she covers People and Community news, cybersecurity, fintech partnerships, marketing, workplace culture, leadership, DEI, branch strategies, digital banking and more. She currently works remotely and splits her time between Southern California and Portland, Ore.

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