Let's begin with a polite question that shows interest in you and your business: How is your economy treating you?
With those pleasantries aside, let me ask a more probing question that shows not only genuine concern for your business, but intestinal fortitude in placing the primary responsibility for creating relief not in Washington or the Middle East, but with you: How are you treating your economy?
After a bit of relevant background, we will review these questions and demonstrate the relevance of the concept of local economic status and local relief. Additionally, you'll be urged to switch both your seat and your role in order to become your company's chief driver rather than the imprisoned passenger on the cursed Recession Bus.
THE RECESSION PROCESSION
It's mid-January . . . we're performing final edits at Surface Fabrication and the economic news is remarkably downbeat. Actually, that's a big understatement. The last three days have been stunning. You cannot turn on a television or go to a Web portal without being inundated by this country's apparent financial woes and the global fallout from them. Without exaggeration, it has reached a crescendo. Restraint, balance and context rarely appear in the reporting. Technically, a recession has not been declared; however, the state of our economy is being treated frantically like a weather station's over-hyped storm watch. But not just any storm — there is an urgency and intensity behind the reporting; a panicky persistence that would normally be reserved for less cyclical misfortune like apocalyptic hail or word that the "Up With People" musical revue was making a big comeback. America is changing dramatically — fearlessly showing off a new cultural schism. Desperately dull economic reports are now being watched with eagle eyes by the most unlikely of viewers. Switching between "Celebrity Internet Porn Addict" on Fox After Hours and "Wall Street Window" on public television, everyday people do more than just go to the market . . . they are the market. And the market's got a bad case of flop-sweat.
WHAT'S THE 'ESSENTIAL' PART OF THIS BUSINESS COLUMN?
I have watched, mesmerized over the course of these last 72 shocking hours, cherry-picked economic reports and worst-case scenario opinion by the private sector blend and morph into a damning declaration by the mainstream media that a recession is upon us. It was like watching hopped-up baseball fans deputizing themselves so that they could make the too-close-to-call play at the plate. Your state, this country and our world is far too complex to be painted with the broad strokes of a singular economic report, especially if that report is then unfairly used to tip us into a recessionary state. The economy is not always the same as your economy. A change in just one number such as the national unemployment rate bumping at year-end, may excite the news editors at the networks, but it's rare in our headline-only news environment that they will put that figure into context for you.
To believe that we are equally affected as citizens, despite geographic differences, market differences and fundamental differences in the characteristics of our individual business performance, such as brand penetration, market position and the availability of working capital, is akin to believing that a meteorologist in Bangladesh could look out her window and accurately describe your current weather. Your economic situation could be quite different; requiring a different attitude and a different fix. In fact, the different attitude just might be the fix. Regardless, blind acceptance of your fate as recession victim will produce a horror known as "The Curse of the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy."