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Silver Linings by David Downs and Joe Davis


Silver Linings is a collection of over 100 stories from across Aotearoa New Zealand showcasing our resilience and can-do attitude.

During last year’s COVID-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown, many people experienced hardship and loss. Overnight, some business owners saw their revenue disappear. Within 24 hours, out of necessity, some businesses had to pivot entirely. For others, it was a time of innovation and optimism.

Many businesses faced difficult choices, either hunker down and hope the money lasts or take a risk and try something new. For many Kiwis using their imagination and creativity was the flipside to the pandemic – the silver linings.


Page after page, these uplifting stories share exactly how some Kiwis overcame the challenge. From the brewery that began producing hand sanitiser, the designers who switched to making face masks and The National Fieldays that pivoted online.


What do these success stories share? The authors identify five fundamental elements for overcoming adversity – a predisposition to taking decisive action, adaptability, awareness, community and organisational culture that prioritises its people.

Nanogirl Labs lost a full 18 month work calendar days before the Alert Level 4 lockdown. Founders Joe Davis and Michelle Dickinson (Nanogirl) could have closed their doors, instead they made the choice to change direction. Four days later they launched an online learning programme for families. As lockdown loomed, they tripled their staff headcount, took on new premises and built a full production studio. They now deliver content to 76 countries.

Joe and Michelle collaborated with fellow innovator David Downs to curate the stories for this book. During lockdown, David helped establish SOS Café, a free online system for cafes and other small businesses to sell vouchers, helping them out with critical cashflow. Ultimately, this put $2 million into the hands of small businesses.


Last year, I enjoyed reading The Covid Chronicles by Paul Little and I was delighted to read Silver Linings too. Silver Linings is a wonderful celebration of Kiwi resilience. Explore Silver Linings and attend the live event on 26 March in Auckland.


Reviewer: Andrea Molloy Penguin Random House, RRP $45.00