Wednesday, December 31, 2008
The purpose of this blog is to be a resource for your learning specific ways to prosper in this bad economy. The wisdom I share comes from leading authors, consultants, economists, and life philosophers, as well as from personal observations from my consulting work with leading professional service firms.
I am hardly a guru on these times. These "whitewater times," as I like to call them, are unlike anything I have experienced before. Like most readers, I am trying everyday to understand the new rules that are being written in business, politics, and every other dimension of our lives.
What you will take away from this blog will depend on your current situation. Those who have recently lost jobs, may want to read my tips in Finding a Job in a Recession. And, those who have been searching for a while without success, will want to consider my recent post Can't Find a Job.
Those who have a job will want to make they keep the job they have, and my post Saving Your Job has tips for helping you do so.
Business owners and executives will find me writing often on ideas for improving your business. My recent post on Increasing Market Share in a Recession has been one of my more business popular posts. From time to time, I write about ideas about specific industries and their challenges. This series can be accessed here.
Many of my posts are designed to help everyone regardless of your perspective. Many found helpful my series on Why the Downturn Will (Regretfully) Be Deeper and Longer than Commonly Expected. That sobering series was hopefully balanced by my thoughts on the Abundant Opportunities in this Recession.
But, this blog is about much more than my own views. One of the most popular series has been Lessons from the Masters featuring the wisdom of Wayne Dyer, Cheryl Richardson, Seth Godin, Cal Ripkin, Jr. and many more. And, of course, your comments are always welcome. Readers of this blog regularly add very thoughtful commentary.
So as the year draws to a close, I want to pledge that throughout '09 I will be trying to make this blog a gracious oasis from the tough times. Each week, I hope to present a balanced mix of "hard" information and "soft" encouragement - all designed to help you find your own path for prospering in these tough times.
Wishing you all the best in '09 and hoping that you will make '09 the best year of your life.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I have long been big on SMART goals and the right support team. But, because I expect 2009 to be a challenging year, I have been determined to add a tool or two to increase the likelihood that 2009 will truly be the best year of my life.
I have a lot that I want to get accomplished in 2009...in my businesses, in my personal life, and with the launch of my program telling about the story of Scotty and his amazing wisdom. I need to bring my "A game" if I am to score well in 2009.
Recently I read a fine article in Success magazine on how North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams motivate his team. One particular quote from Coach Williams really got me thinking:
"If each of us works every day to be the best we can be on that day and then come back and do the same tomorrow, then we have a better chance of being our very best at year's end."
Hardly profound, at first reading. But, definitely profound when I reflected and was reminded that the total progress we accomplish in anything is the sum of the steps we take toward a goal.
The quality of your 2009 year will be a direct function of the quality of your months, your weeks and ultimately of the days.
Of course, I have long known this. But, I have to admit that in the past I gave up on too many days. Somewhere along the line as the day unfolded, I would give up on it being one of the best days of my life. I started every day with the right attitude...but I did not maintain that attitude throughout the day, even in the face of unexpected obstacles.
Hall of Fame hitters make every at-bat count. I have decided to make every day count. Every day. Every single day. No matter what obstacles I encounter.
And, because I believe that if one is serious about any change, one starts immediately, I adopted this attitude immediately upon reading and reflecting on the William's wisdom. I am comitted to shaping every day into one of the very best days of my life.
What about you? Do you let days slip by? Weeks slip by?
The environment, likely in 2009, leaves precious little room for any of us to do less than our best every single day.
Coming Tomorrow: Step-by-Step to the Best Year of Your Life, the sixth and final post in the series Countdown to New Years. The six part series starts here.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Well, if you measure your life strictly in economic terms, then such a resolution is likely to bring disappointment. However, the notion of prosperity reflected in this blog goes far beyond mere economics.
Ben Stein, the well read columnist of the NYTimes concluded one of his most recent columns with this sage advice:
"We are more than our investments. We are more than the year-to-year changes in our net worth. We are what we do for charity. We are how we treat our family and friends. We are how we treat our dogs and cats. We are what we do for our nation and our community. If you had $100 million or $100,000 a year ago and now you have a lot less, you are still the same person. You are not a balance sheet, at least not one denominated in money, as was explained to me recently."
If you are more than a financial balance sheet, then 2009 can be the best year in our life, at least for most of us. We have the opportunity to:
1) Be in the best physical and mental condition of our life, or certainly of recent years.
2) Have the best relationships ever with our loved ones.
3) Treat everyone with more respect and compassion than we ever have.
4) Do more for our community than ever.
5) Serve our employer or clients better than ever, if we have a job or clients, and if we don't to make the best pursuit we ever have.
6) Etc. Etc.
Yes, if indeed you are more than a balance sheet, 2009 can truly be the best year of your life.
And, I know that if you go into the year thinking anything less, it is highly likely that you will be right.
I am absolutely determined to make 2009 "the best year of my life." I hope you will make a similiar choice.
Tomorrow, I will share with you one of the secrets I recently learned from North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams about how to create a best year of our life.
Coming Tomorrow: 365 Ways to Make 2009 the Best Year of Your Life, the fifth post in the series Countdown to New Years. The six part series starts here.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
In my experience, few people are able to accomplish a really big goal all by themselves.
Life has a way of dealing all of us unexpected setbacks. With the right support team, one can get the guidance and encouragement to quickly get back on the right path.
There are a five different forms of available support:
- Coach or therapist
- Mastermind Group
- Support group focused on the specific area of the goal (e.g., AA for those looking to stop drinking).
Of course, your family can play an important support role. However, I don't often see change happening successfully when the family is the only support force.
Personally, I am a big believer in surrounding myself with the right support. I benefit tremendously from having two coaches, being in two Mastermind Groups, and participating in four different business support groups. And, I have a cadre of mentors, protege's and partners that keep me continually focused on making the changes important to my well being, in all aspects of my life.
Do you have the right support structure in place to help you make your New Year's resolutions come true? If you are expecting better results in '09 than you accomplished in '08, do you have a better support team in place?
Saturday, December 27, 2008
I have been helping businesses and individuals to achieve their goals for more than 25 years. I have witnesses some spectacular successes, both on a business and individual basis. And, regretfully, I have witnessed even more failures. Through these successes and these failures I have come to believe...and strongly believe, at that...success with any goal comes from having (1) SMART goals, and (2) the right support system. In this post, I will comment on the former, and tomorrow I will comment on the latter.
Many years ago, someone...I wish I could remember who...introduced me to the concept of SMART goals. SMART is an acronym for what goals must be to be successfully implementable.
Now, all kinds of consultants and coaches have tweaked what each of the five letters stand for. But, fundamentally the concept is that goals must have certain characteristics in order for there to be a high liklihood of succesful implementation.
I can't point to a definitive study that proves that by having the following five attributes a goal is more likely to be successfully implemented. But, my twenty five years of working with individuals and businesses on implementing their goals suggest that the following are a solid foundation:
S stands for specific. You will increase your likelihood of success with a goal, or a New Year's resolution, when it is specific. "I want to lose weight" is a generality. "I want to lose twenty pounds" is much more specific.
M stands for measurable. "I want to lose twenty pounds" is both specific and measurable. By making a goal measurable, you facilitate monitoring of progress. Without being measurable, how can you monitor progress and ultimate success?
A stands for action. The key to attaining any goal is action. So a well stated goal should include, or be supported by, the specific actions that will be taken to achieve the goal. So a better goal statement would be "I want to lose twenty pounds by exercising 30 minutes per day, every other day, and eliminating all manufactured snacks." Note how the inclusion of actions makes the goal come alive.
R stands for realistic. We are an incredible machine. And, when we ask our mind to do things that it believes are not possible, our systems will not support pursuit of the goal. Goals must be realistic...for you. They can be "stretch" goals, but they must be grounded in reality.
T stands for time-phased. In order for progress to be monitored, there must be specificity with regard to the date by which the goal must be attained. So continuing with the weight goal example, a better statement of the goal would be "I want to lose twenty pounds, by next December 31, by exercising 30 minutes per day, every other day, and eliminating all manufactured snacks throughout '09." By adding in the time dimension, we can chunk our goal down into smaller time periods, against which we can measure our progress. 20 pounds over twelve months equates to a little less than two pounds per month. Two pounds per month is realistic in that it is within what is considered to be a reasonable weight loss range for a healthy person.
So, are your planned resolutions (or goals) for '09 SMART?Translate your resolutions into SMART goals and you will significantly increase the likelihood of succeeding with whatever are your goals. Get the right support for your SMART goals (the subject of my next post) and you will have dramatically increased the likelihood of your achieving your goals in 2009.
Coming Tomorrow: New Year's Resolution Support, the third post in the series Countdown to New Years. The six part series starts here.
Friday, December 26, 2008
So with all good intentions, we think about all that we want to change in our lives. Our weight. A habit, such as smoking, that we want to stop. Relationships we want to change. For many, the list of "dream" changes is long.
But, heck this is (soon to be) New Years. A fresh start. Filled with all kinds of new possibilities. Ahhhh, hope springs eternal.
But, the sad fact is that studies have shown that most have broken their New Year's resolutions within weeks, if not days.
Health club memberships skyrocket about this time of the year. Actual attendance at health clubs is strong in January, and by February is starting to taper back to the core group of members that workout year round.
So the obvious question is:
Why do so many well intentioned people fail with their New Year's resolutions?
The most basic answer lies in a concept that was taught to me, many years ago, by Tony Robbins. Tony has long proclaimed that if you really want to change anything you must start immediately. Immediately!
If something is important enough for you to change, then why would you wait?
I so often have people tell me that they will start a new program next week or next month. What that tells me is that they are not really serious about changing.
If one is serious about losing weight, for example, one could...and should...start today. Putting the start off to next week, or to January 1, or to next month is just proof that the person does not want the change enough.
Change is difficult for most people. If one doesn't want to change enough to start immediately, then it is doubtful that one will have the willpower to take all the steps to root the new behavior.
Planning a New Year's resolution or two? If you are serious, really serious, about the changes you want to make, you will start today. Your start may not be perfect, as you may be missing some needed assistance. But, nevertheless, you can get started today.
In those famous words from Nike, "Just Do It."
Coming Tomorrow: Success with New Year's Resolutions, the second post in the series Countdown to New Years.
Originally conceived by the nineteenth century economist, Pareto, in its original construct what became known as Pareto's Principle suggested that -- commonly -- 80% of an enterprise's revenue came from 20% of its customers. The logical conclusion coming from such a ratio is that one's primary focus should be on the 20% of the customers, rather than paying tons of attention to the other customers.
Well, although this may apply to some businesses, there are many businesses where this rule clearly does not apply. As just one example of where it does not apply, a supermarket doesn't get 80% of its revenues from 20% of its customers. Nor does a McDonald's restaurant. Nor do most retailers.
But, the underlying point is still a good one. Every business should focus on the customers that really make a difference to the business, especially in these challenging times.
Lately, I have been seeing a lot of businesses who should use 80/20 for a new construct. These are the businesses that have lost 20% of their business. Many who have done so, for example the domestic auto companies, are crying doom.
Now, I don't want to make light of losing 20% of one's revenue. For many companies, absent a dramatic change in the expense structure of the business, a 20% loss in revenues will throw the company into a loss position.
But, who says that if industry volume is down by 20% that one's revenue has to decline by a similar percentage. If industry volume is down by 20%, then that means 80% of the market is still available for those willing to go after it. The challenge in this economy is to take market share away from competitors, and to do so on a profitable basis. Certainly not easy! But, far from impossible.
I see far too many business owners and managers accepting the notion that they should expect their revenues to decline by an amount similar to those of the industry. That is fatal logic!
Think 80/20. Eighty percent of the market still exists after a twenty percent decline in industry or market revenues. Instead of crying over the loss, focus all your creative energy in taking market share away from competitors.
It can be done. And, it is being done by aggressive companies...right now!
Of course, not every company can't take market share away from others. There will be winners (or market share) and there will be losers. For the losers, lights out will likely be the result. So, there is a lot at stake. We are operating in a time when only the strong will survive.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Now some may call me an optimist. But, my consulting clients pay me to be a realist, charting strategies to help them prosper in these times. To help my clients, I am continually scanning the market looking for pockets of opportunity. And, I continue to see wonderful opportunities for those who understand that almost all the rules that we have learned are being replaced by new rules.
Companies trying to sell the same goods and services, at the same prices, that they offered in good times are not likely to prosper. And individuals offering the same skills to employers, at the same salary, are also not likely to prosper.
Regretfully, many companies and many individuals are having trouble shedding what worked well in the past. They are looking at the world through the prism of their past experiences and past successes. How sad!
All of us...individuals and companies alike...face new realities. New needs. New economic constraints. New buying patterns. Etc.
Those who understand these new needs and fashion compelling offerings will prosper. Some are already doing so. Others will, hopefully, soon do so. Regretfully, many will fail to do so as they will be looking at the world through yesterday's rules. Kind of like trying to drive your car forward while looking in the rear view mirror.
The road to prosperity begins with having the right attitudes for these challenging times. The recently concluded series Lessons from the Masters is a great starting point for adjusting your attitude to support personal prosperity in 2009. And, throughout 2009, I will be regularly sharing with you my observations about what I see happening in the market...both the good and the bad. As I do so, I welcome your comments and suggestions.
Happy holidays to all and I will be back on Friday to start a new series Countdown to New Years.
Monday, December 22, 2008
It doesn't take a genius to see that the number of impacted parties and the size of the impact is quickly making this the full employment act for forensic accountants and lawyers.
Lawyers battling it out as to who knew what, when, and who should have known what, when will play out over many, many months, if not many years. But such battles can obscure that the real tragedy here is the individuals and charities that have been wiped out by this massive fraud.
Sometimes, I think that lawyers...in their zeal for new business...can lose sight of the fact that at the heart of every tragedy are real people who have had their hopes and dreams crushed.I am proud of the fact that one of my clients, the fine Florida law firm of Berger Singerman, was one of the first law firms to publicly address the personal tragedies, of the situation, in a holistic, deeply caring way. Their Madoff Alert speaks for itself.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
I have been making sure I allocate time to trying to help those who reach out directly to me. In trying to help friends, I have come to believe that:
the job search process is yet another relic from the past that needs to be re-invented.The most common advice being given by career counselors seems to be "network, network, network." Inherent in that advice is the premise that there are jobs and that one networks to find the proverbial needle in the haystack. Perfectly appropriate advice for the times fading in the rear view mirror.
But, today the number of openings is miniscule. People who have jobs are holding onto them for dear life. They have stepped up their performance and are working diligently to avoid giving their employer any opportunity to lay them off.
I have come to believe that the economy is reaching the point that the only way to get a job is to take a job away from an incumbent. Ouch! Not a nice thought, but the reality of today's market.
In essence, you have to convince an employer that you can do a given job much, much better the incumbent. With the total number of jobs shrinking by the day, you can't rely on job growth to create opportunities. And, you can't count on job mobility to do likewise. You have to go after a "seat" that is already filled.
Now your mission is not to "per se" take a job away from an incumbent. But, that is the effect. Your mission is to demonstrate that you could and would do a much, much better job than one of the incumbents.
Now networking can help identify some targets for this approach. But, classic networking for the purpose of finding an open “seat” is a perfectly appropriate strategy….for a different era. And, yet that is what the crowd is largely doing.
Sad! Really sad!! Following the crowd is seldom the way to go. In this case, it seems to me to be the complete wrong way to go.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
At the conclusion of this book, Joyce suggests that we
"make a commitment to to pursue peace from this day forward: to discover all you can about what your Peace Stealers are, to know yourself and face the truth that will set you free."
Thursday, December 18, 2008
When we have heard the cheers, it is frequently difficult to change...this is what is called the "success trap."
One of my favorite illustrations of the success trap comes from the very talented, wonderfully articulate, and so classy NASCAR driver Jeff Burton. Some years ago, as I recall, Jeff had led all the laps of a race until the final two when he got passed and had to settle for runner-up. When asked by a reporter how he could possibly lose after leading so many laps, Jeff replied with this profound statement:
"I haven't yet learned how to adjust when I am winning."
For all of us, adjusting when we are winning is counter-intuitive. Why change when we are winning?
We must change to reflect changed circumstances. In Jeff Burton's case, the track condition was changing and his car needed to be adjusted to take advantage of the changes. In today's environment, all us of need to make changes.
Marshall Goldsmith wrote a terrific book which dealt with this phenomena as it pertains to our performance at work. What Got You Here Wont' Get You There is especially relevant in today's corporate world where one personal performance problem could have you on the "cut list."
Are you about to be the victim of the success trap? Is your past success breeding your future failure in this world where so much is changing, so quickly?
Coming Tomorrow: The exceptional wisdom of Joyce Meyers. You can read the entire series of Lessons from the Masters by starting here.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I have chosen to embrace the recession, instead of fearing it.
None of us can control the economy. What we can control is how we choose to respond to this economic meltdown.
Although the magnitude of the rate cut seemed to sit well with the stock market, as a pragmatist, I see much to be concerned about with the size of the reduction and with the new target. As to the size of the reduction, the Fed has clearly signaled that they are very concerned about the snowball of a declining economy that just keeps getting worse. Beyond the size of the reduction, the Fed's accompanying statement was equally ominous, “The Committee anticipates that weak economic conditions are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for some time.”
Although clearly a necessary move in light of the direction of the economy and the size of the Madoff fraud, a target of 0% means that the Fed can no longer use interest rate movements to bolster the economy. Although it still has tools available, an important tool is effectively used up.
Our economic policymakers are up against a plethora of problems...any one of which, by itself...would do real damage to our economy. Together they are crippling our economy.
We have witnessed the collapse of our investment banking firms, then the effective insolvency of the commercial banking system, and now we will likely see the meltdown of hedge funds.
Every day, in almost every way, I become ever more concerned that the pessimistic view of the economic future that I wrote about back in October is regretfully becoming painfully real. I continue to believe that smart companies and prudent individuals will stop asking how long the downturn will last and will instead get on with positioning themselves to prosper in tough times that are likely to last for years. Anyone doing "business-as-usual" with an expectation of a quick tunraround is sure to experience sever financial pain.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Economic stress will quickly produce stress in other aspects of people's lives. And, it is the relationship stresses that concern me most. I worry about the out-of-work spouse who starts taking their anger out on their children. I worry about what a job loss can do to a marriage relationship. And, I worry about the family relationships that will be adversely impacted by economic woes of one or more members of a family.
One of the segments of the population that I worry about most is middle aged women who will be cast aside by husbands forced to start their wealth building again (to be fair, there will be women also casting aside their husbands when they learn their net worth has evaporated in this economic meltdown). Many of these women have been out of the job market for years and will now need to quickly find a job in an environment where jobs are very difficult to find. Ouch!
To women of all ages, finding themselves starting over, I highly recommend Judi Moreo's excellent book, You Are More Than Enough.
I am a fan of so many authors that I almost hate to ever recommend a single book. But, for the woman who finds herself cast aside and needing to quickly reposition herself, the guidance of Judi Moreo is a great starting point. Judi communicates a wonderful mix of "can do" attitude with very practical suggestions on getting on a better track of life.
Life is, often, not fair. All of us, from time to time, experience events and circumstances that we don't deserve. How we handle those events and circumstances determines our future. Never has that been more true.
The good news is that there is a wealth of wisdom that is available for those who choose to improve their future.
Are you aggressively using the resources available to help you prosper in tough times? Or, have you resigned yourself to be a victim of the times?
Coming Tomorrow: The exceptional wisdom of Joe Caruso. You can read the entire series of Lessons from the Masters by starting here.
Monday, December 15, 2008
It has gotten to a point where it almost feels rude to be happy in such tough times. But, here is the conundrum...unhappy people seldom experience prosperity, at least in my experience.
So I believe it is important to be happy even in tough times. And, when it comes to explaining the importance of happiness, one of my very favorite authors is Marci Shimoff, author of the terrific book Happy for No Reason.
Although written for a different time, this book is especially relevant in these challenging times. Marci's step-by-step guide for building a happiness "home" is just what the doctor ordered (or should have) as a prescription for these challenging times.
Yes, I feel deep compassion for those who are struggling...but, at the same time, I am resolute and unapologetic that I choose to be happy, notwithstanding the tough times.
Coming Tomorrow: The exceptional wisdom of Judi Moreo. You can read the entire series of Lessons from the Masters by starting here.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
The Madoff fraud is the crowning blow. The direct impact is to make sophisticated investors wonder if any of the hedge funds can really be trusted in view of their virtually non-existent third party regulation. The indirect impact is to call into question the capabilities of the due diligence really performed by funds of funds ("FOF's"). With some estimating that approximately one half of hedge fund investing is through FOF's, any tarnishing of the capability of these entities is very problematic.
Couple the hedge fund industry problems with investor independent need for withdrawals to meet investor liquidity problems of their own and you have the recipe for yet another disaster in our financial institutions. Liquidity demands on the funds will necessitate rapid sale of assets, in a market that is not kind to sellers of any kind.
I fully expect that it will get as ugly for the hedge funds as it has been for the investment banks and commercial banks. If not even uglier, as I don't see a political appetite for rescuing these funds.
And, the snowball just keeps picking up speed.
Although the Madoff fraud news broke last week, the financial market impact will likely play out over the next couple of days. I full expect that the chaos likely to play out in the financial markets, tomorrow and the remiander of the week, will fully test the mettle of the Fed and the Treasury Department.
The ripple effects of the Madoff collapse can be expected to play out starting on Monday. And, it is likely to be very ugly.
The first ripple ring is those that directly lost money. These individuals and institutions will have liquidity issues of their own. They will also lose the confidence of their lenders, thereby starting a death spiral where liquidity just completely dries up in an instant.
The second ripple ring is likely to come from a loss of confidence in hedge funds and all manner of attempts to pull money out. Desperate people will be looking for ways to circumvent any contractual limitations on their ability to make a withdrawal claim at this point. Inflows to hedge funds are likely to slow dramatically. This combination means that many hedge funds...even beyond those directly impacted...are likely to have severe liquidity needs. Absent the Fed opening the Discount Window to the hedge funds (a scary thought in view of the absence of regulation [as proven by Madoff]), hedge funds are likely to be dumping all manner of assets in a desperate attempt to meet liquidity needs. Very ugly!
The third ripple ring is that the expected flight to safety will put tremendous downward pressure on prices of all manner of securities, thereby creating yet another ripple.
Absent very adroit government intervention, Monday has the potential to go down in history as one of the most monumental days in financial history.
I am praying that I am very, very, very wrong.
As if the economy was not snowballing downward enough, this fraud will be a nasty accelerant. This is a huge fraud....aparently a couple of times larger than Enron (which was not a total fraud as here).
Regular readers of this blog know that rising fraud is to be expected with the downturn. But, this fraud predates the downturn. So my takeaway is that if people will cheat their close friends in good times, just imagine what they will do when under severe distress.
I am writing this from the Boca (FL) area where I happen to be as this story breaks. The Boca/West Plam area, along with the NYC area look to be the epic center of the fraud. In NYC, the impact will be spread because of the size of the wealth community. I expect the impact in South Florida to be much more severe.
The South Florida economy was already reeling worse than the norm...this is yet another kick in the teeth for business owners and residents in this area.
But, the ripple effects of this fraud will be much, much more far reaching. I regret to say that this is yet another factor that validates my previous views that this downturn will be more severe than most have expected and longer loasting.
So is this the beginning of the end of the world...hardly!
I continue to see business owners and individuals that are positioning themselves to not only survive, but to thrive and even prosper in these tough times. Have you made the choice to prosper in these tough times?
Saturday, December 13, 2008
This year, I had the good fortune to be in a group coaching program where I met one of the most impressive coaches I have met in some time. Corrine Bucher, who specializes in coaching mothers balancing raising young children with career demands, is a fantastic person and an even more fantastic coach. I learned so much from her watching her navigate through Mary Allen's group coaching program.
In addition to an active coaching practice, Corrine is raising two young children and managing the household in a family where her husband's career has him often on the road (sound familiar, ladies?). Even with all that is going on in her life, Corrine is an advocate for the importance of extreme self care. And part of her personal self care is to regularly surf in the Pacific Ocean.
One of Corrine's gifts to our groupwas a surfing metaphor...that of leaning into a wave,even as your mind is fearing the wave.
This economic meltdown is very real. It is absolutely normal to have fears about what all of us are seeing happen around as friends lose their job, business are shuttered, etc. What matters most is how you handle those fears.
Those who prosper will be those who lean into it....i.e., those who embrace the recession, rather than run from it.
Are you leaning into it? Are you embracing the recession and seeing the new opportunities being created? Or, are you frozen in fear?
Coming Tomorrow: The exceptional wisdom of Marci Shimoff. You can read the entire series of Lessons from the Masters by starting here.
Back in October, I wrote about one applicable lesson - the importance of having the right mates in tough times.
Watching industry after industry appeal to Congress to "save their industry" reminds me of yet another important Outward Bound lesson. That is the lesson of "self-rescue."
I will never forget the first time my canoe capsized in very challenging whitewater. As I bobbed to the surface of the wildly churning river, I spotted one of the instructors in a canoe about 10-15 yards away. I called out "help, help."
Back came the words I will never forget "self-rescue Dave." Just then I bobbed underwater again and when I came back up I again yelled "help help."
And, again back came the words "self-rescue Dave." At which point, I finally got the message. I was expected to rescue myself. At which point, I quickly concluded I needed to swim to the nearest shore. Which I did, albeit not without great difficulty.
My instructor always hovered nearby, but he sent a clear message that:
it was up to me to save myself.
It is a lesson more CEO's need to learn. Flying to Washington in a private jet to ask for a bailout, as the automakers did, is hardly demonstrating a commitment to self-rescue.
Unfortunately, ours is a society that likes to blame others for our failures. And, likes to expect others to rescue us from our failures.
Are you a business owner or executive counting on Washington to save your company, or are you committed to self-rescue as if your life depended on it?
Are you an individual out of work and counting on others to save you? Or are you pursuing finding a job as if your life really depended on it?
The surest way I know to save oneself, or one's company, is to practice self-rescue. Asking for assistance from others is smart, but ultimately we all have to reach down deep and use all of our strength to do our part.
This is the second in an ongoing series commenting on the lessons I learned from Outward Bound that are applicable to these tough times. Next up, the importance of service to others.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Rich people focus on opportunities.Poor people focus on obstacles.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
An ideal support team should include a coach, a mastermind group, and a couple of mentors. I so believe in the importance of a good support team that I have two coaches, two mastermind groups and a deluxe group of mentors (and awesome protege's who are constantly stretching my thinking).
One of my two coaches is the fantastic Mary Allen whose work with clients on everyday inner peace is first rate. Mary is the author of The Power of Inner Choice.
I have just concluded a year long group program with Mary that was terrific. The program's focus was everyday inner peace. I am looking forward to starting a new program with Mary and a new group in January.
Mary has helped me improve my ability to maintain a sense of inner peace even among the most trying of circumstances. Tough times will create many trying circumstances and I am glad I am equipped with the skills learned through Mary's group program.
Inner peace...if you don't have it, get some help developing it. Prospering in tough times is highly unlikely if you are at war with yourself (and others).
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Reading....like my client work...stretches my mind. I read with a challenging frame of mind, constantly asking does the author have it right (there is a ton of BS that one must filter through to get to real wisdom).
In a rapidly changing world, stretching one's mind is very important. And, no author stretches my mind more frequently than Seth Godin. His books are terrific, but his blog is even better yet. Every single blog posting is a delightful morsel of wisdom, with a perspective that is constantly stretching my thinking.
If you have the time to read just one blog (beyond this one :) ), my recommendation for business people would be Seth's. He really gets it! And, I hope you do also.
All the rules are being rewritten at 100 mph!
If you are playing by the old rules, you are likely destining yourself to failure. You will be losing your job, if you haven't already done so. Or, your business will be failing, if it hasn't already done so.
Those who will prosper in these tough times will be those who quickly grasp the new rules and fashion strategies to win with the new rules.
Coming Tomorrow: The exceptional wisdom of Mary Allen. You can read the entire series of Lessons from the Masters by starting here.
Monday, December 8, 2008
"gratitude births only positive feelings - love, compassion, joy and hope. As we focus on what we are thankful for, fear, anger, and bitterness melt away, seemingly without effort."
The key to creating the attitude of gratitude is to get crystal clear on all you do have, rather than on what you no longer have.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
In 2007, Cal Ripkin, Jr. published his fine book and wonderful primer on perseverence, Get in the Game - 8 Elements of Perseverence that Make the Difference.
It would be easy to dismiss Cal's book as just a series of platitudes. But, Cal Ripkin's success, both on and off the field , remind us that this is a man who walks his talk. He earned the respect to make statements like the following resonate with us.
"Never let anyone outwork you. Don not take for granted that you have a job."
Are you taking your job for ganted?
Are you taking your customers or clients for granted?
Are you taking your friends for granted?
These are times where nothing should be taken for granted. Those who prosper in these tough times will be those who are focused on adding continuous value to all of their relationships, both business and personal.
Coming Tomorrow: The exceptional wisdom of M. J. Ryan. You can read the entire series of Lessons from the Masters by starting here.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Jack Canfield, in his terrific book The Success Principles, quotes some universal wisdom from John that is even more applicable in tough times:
"There are two types of people - anchors and motors. You want to lose the anchors and get with the motors because the motors are going somewhere and they are having more fun. The anchors will just drag you down."
Time for a tough question. Are you an anchor or a motor, for others, in these tough times?
The question was not what you want to be viewed as. What are you actually viewed as by friends, co-workers, etc. ?
Are you certain enough as to what others would say that you would put it to the test with some friends, co-workers, etc.?
And what about those with whom you spend the most time? How many anchors are in that close group?
In these tough times, you want to be surrounded by motors. To be surrounded by motors, you need to be a motor for other motors are not likely to tolerate anchors in these tough times.
Coming Tomorrow: The exceptional wisdom of Cal Ripkin, Jr. You can read the entire series of Lessons from the Masters by starting here.
Friday, December 5, 2008
With so many of the norms of business and finance being tipped on their head by this economic decline, it is illogical for anyone to be pursuing a "business-as-usual" approach. Yet, I see so many companies and so many individuals making relatively small tweaks to their strategy and tactics.
In their latest book, Boom - 7 Choices for Blowing the Doors Off Business-as-Usual, the Freibergs advocate that individuals make a conscious choice to make a difference in their work by making the right choices...choices that blow-up business as usual.
So what about you? Are you motoring through the emerging tough times largely doing the things you did in good times?
Other than cutting back on expenditures, what substantive changes have you made to your personal strategies and tactics?
And, if you are an executive or business owner, what changes have you made to your business strategies and tactics?
If you are tweaking, rather than quickly reinventing, then it is highly unlikely that you will be one who prospers in this servere dowturn.
Coming Tomorrow: The exceptional wisdom of John Wyland, the renowned marine life artist. You can read the entire series of Lessons from the Masters by starting here.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Jack's most recent book, The Success Principles, is one of my all time favorite books on success. Published three years ago, this book is as relevant for tough times as for the more favorable times that existed when the book first came out.
Jack's thesis is that there are time proven principles for personal success, which if followed, will inevitably lead to success. As he likes to remind us
"The principles always work if you work the principles."
Jack Canfield is not suggesting that doing the same thing things you did in good times will work in tough times. It is the principles that will work, not all the strategies and tactics that may have been sucessful in the past. Changed times require changed strategies and changed tactics.
Are you working the success principles (either Jack's 64 or your own), or have you let the tough times throw you off your game?
Coming Tomorrow: The exceptional wisdom of Kevin & Jackie Freiberg. You can read the entire series of Lessons from the Masters by starting here.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Have the tough times got you curled up in fear, or have you dramatically increased your productive actions?
Monday, December 1, 2008
One of the financial executives I respect most is Bob Tormey, a Restructuring CFO with the professional service firm of Tatum LLC. Bob, who hails from the Los Angeles area, is a very, very astute observer of what is happening in the financial world, especially as to his personal sweet spot of middle market companies.
When I recently asked Bob what he thought about these tough times, he reminded me that:
"Life’s tests are not tests of ability, but tests of character."
Bob was quick to point out that the quote sounded like something he must have read somewhere, and certainly we have all seen variations on this theme by any number of authors and speakers.
Bob and I went on to discuss how, in past downturns, white collar criminal activity had increased, just as bank robberies have historically done. Some executives will, regrettably, succumb to the "need" to produce attractive financial data and falsify data. Some may even be ordered to do so by a superior.
This is just one manifestation of Bob's sage caution. This downturn will test the character of all of us, each likely in different ways.
How is your character holding up so far (I am on record as saying we are still early in this downturn)?
What if any values have you compromised with the rationale that the tough times are making it necessary to do so?
And, what checks and balances do you have in place to make sure that you don't compromise your values in the future?
Coming Tomorrow: The exceptional wisdom of Tony Robbins. You can read the entrire series of Lessons from the Masters by starting here.