October 13, 2011
Whoa!??? That was their first response. They were used to hearing this spin from politicians, trying to deflect blame for misery by uttering the O-Word. But not from a leadership coach, who argues that our role is to define reality then give hope.
But the research is on my side. Take the article Hanging Tough, which I've been touting for two years now. It reviews research on every recession since 1901 and reveals some of the boldest moves ever made in US Business History: The launch of Rice Krispies, Miracle Whip and Chevy (all in the 30's). The launch of the iPod in Oct 2001 (the double whammy of the dotcom bust and 9/11). The rise of Hyndai in 2009 and 2010, doubling down with new products and aggressive advertising.
Why were all these moves prescient? Because, as Mark Cuban once said, "Recessions are the great equalizer. Everyone is a genius in a Bull Market." He's right too. Recessions usually start because of a technical breakdown in an industry (tech in 2011, mortgage/stocks in 2008, so on). Then the impact ALWAYS spreads to every industry and no company is immune to the shrinkage.
Too often, though, we have blinders on - thinking that we are alone in our misery. The fact is that your competition is hurting too, and likely, they are in survial mode. Cutting budgets, waiting to see if there's a double dip coming, laughing at you when you introduce a disruptive produce or launch a startup. The point is, they are watching you, not responding to you like they did in better times.
And that's why the time is now. You have a chance to try someone 'under the radar' - and perhaps leapfrog your bigger competitors with more to lose. Try this in a few years when the economy is humming again and watch your innovations get copied, scaled faster via deep pockets and pummeled.
Here's the way to balance it all: Form a mastermind group of trusted sources of financial and technical market strength. Bootstrap everything you can, and execute-learn-improve your new ideas as publicly as possible to steal mindshare. Harness collective fear as your shield, and take advantage of today - because today you are rich in opportunity to be the Phoenix and not the Fodder.