Whew! Thank goodness that one's over. As laps around the sun go, 2008 was about as much fun as the morning after having had five too many glasses of New Year's Eve champagne. The big difference being there does not appear to be any Alka-Seltzer in the cabinet to ease the pain of this lingering economic hangover. Would someone please make the room stop spinning?
Then again, you have to admit that the decades long night on the town that preceded the meltdown was a lot of fun, what with all the toys we acquired along the way. May those high-def media rooms, oversized swimming pools, and gas guzzling SUVs bought on credit serve as reminders of the road we traveled at breakneck speed. Let's not let a little thing like the money faucet running dry ruin the memories of the great party we threw ourselves.
Besides, think of the wonderful stories we'll share with our grandchildren...
It's 2030, and I'm 70 years old. Little Tommy and Billie sit with me by the fire (since we can't afford electricity). I sip a glass of wine (at half the cost of water). They munch on carrots (which serve as dinner). Tommy looks in my eyes and says, "Grandpa, tell us again about when you didn't have to share your house with other families." Billie smiles and says, "Let's hear how you used to eat out at, what do you call them, restaurants." Their 40-year-old mother shakes her head and says, "Yeah, Dad, remind us about the good ol' days."
Yikes! Wake me from this nightmare, Clarence. That's way too close to Pottersville. "It's a Wonderful Life" was made in 1946, and is in black-and-white, for goodness sakes. No way it could ever happen in our lifetime.
That said, just when your business was humming along, profits were solid if not spectacular, employees were showing up on time and turning out quality work, debt was decreasing and cash flow increasing, and you were saying, "This isn't such a bad industry after all," someone went and changed the game on you. Now the thought of ever retiring seems as likely as the Jets playing in next month's Super Bowl.
I remember my father—whose widowed mother raised six kids during the Great Depression—saying: "There'll never be another one, because there are too many regulations in place to prevent it from happening." Somewhere in the great spiritual world beyond he's shaking his head and thinking, "In hindsight, I'd probably retract that no Depression theory."
Tough Times Indeed
In reality, we're a long way from a Depression, although on a clear day standing on a hill, you might be able to catch a glimpse of it from here. While the troubled banking, auto, and housing industries grab headlines, down here where printers make their livings, folks aren't begging Washington to hand them any bailout money. No, thank you. That's not who you are or what you're about. You'll take responsibility for your own actions, and keep showing up for work every day...fighting the good fight and figuring out creative ways to make it through the next payroll cycle. Things might not be like they once were, but they're a lot better than they could be.
Of course, there are many good people—some perhaps in your own family—who are hurting because of the actions and inactions of Wall Street and others in charge.
Those who have lost jobs and their homes are enduring tremendous pain. It's important to have empathy for their plight.
Your printing center likely is feeling the effects of the long tail of the slowdown. In my recent coaching sessions, clients shared a common trend: The fourth quarter hesitated around Halloween, staggered through Thanksgiving, and never picked up before the ball dropped in Times Square. For them and others like you, the experience was frustrating, disappointing, and challenging all rolled into one gloomy Christmas tree ornament. Bah humbug!
Welcome to 2009