he Great Depression created the environment for companies such as Texas Instruments and Hewlett-Packard. Microsoft, Genetech, and Apple were all founded in the oil shock and stock market downturn of 1973 to 1976. And, the legendary brands of the next fifty years, I believe, will be created in the crucible of today’s challenges. The same principle applies to personal wealth, and that is why you must read Risky is the New Safe by Randy Gage.
What if the unemployment rate is the wrong measure? The U.S. economy added 243,000 jobs in January 2012, and the unemployment rate dropped from 8.5 percent to 8.3 percent. That’s huge, and everyone should be excited regardless of their political affiliation. This is the type of employment gain that solidifies the economic recovery. But, what if the right number turns out to be the wrong measure?
So here’s a scary thought: What if the turbulence that we’ve seen in the past three years is the new normal? This is an exciting time to be in the business of building a team, a department, and an entire organization. It is not for the faint of heart, however. The legendary brands of the future are being created today by leaders and organizations who relish the opportunity to compete and master life in the new abnormal.
The reality of today’s market-driven world is brutal. We are all better at some things than others. Most of us are actually excellent – or at least better than average – at some aspects of our business or personal performance. And, that doesn’t matter unless what we do well adds value to the customer.
The numbers are in, and people lack confidence. Not all people, but enough of them to slow consumer spending and business investment. Lack of confidence changes behavior. Confident consumers spend more money because they believe the future will be positive. Confident sales people make more sales because they trust their ability and the value of their product. Confident companies invest in innovation, talent development, and new equipment because they believe that they will be rewarded for their investment.
The U.S. economy is in a self-fulfilling death spiral propelled by mistrust. There is a good chance that the same thing can be said of your industry, your employer, and your career. Growth requires investment, and that requires confidence. You can’t cut your way to sustainable growth. When trust is absent, people naturally protect their immediate self-interest. This will occur even if it leads to their long-term individual and collective undoing.
What’s not to like? Millions of like-minded people promoting limited federal government, individual freedoms, personal responsibility, free markets, and a return of political power to the states and the people. How could anyone argue that the Tea Party is a bad thing? Oh wait! That can’t be right. The Tea Party is actually millions of small-minded people who engage in racist behaviors and want to take away the power of the federal government to set policy and help society by cutting the funding to every social program that they don’t like. So which is it? The answer is, “It depends on your point of view.”
Timothy Geithner must go for two reasons: (1) he’s expendable: and (2) he has become a distraction. Geithner didn’t vote on a single debt proposal, and yet he played a significant role in the crisis. This is what happens when coaches are fired. The coach isn’t on the field making the plays, and you would think that players would be committed enough to play hard for the common good. But when you can’t fire the team, you often fire the coach. You can’t fire an elected official, and the public and financial markets want someone held accountable. It is unfortunate and perhaps even a little unfair. Sorry Tim, you need to go.
The trials of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and disgraced self-help guru James Arthur Ray both ended in guilty verdicts. Blagojevich was found guilty on 17 of 20 counts of corruption. Ray was found guilty of three counts of negligent homicide from deaths in a sweat lodge ceremony. And though some would argue that the verdicts in both cases were never in doubt, the results could have gone either way. Here are three lessons leaders can learn from these two seemingly unrelated cases:
Let the debating begin. Congressman Anthony Weiner’s revelation that he exercised terrible judgment by Tweeting an inappropriate photo to a woman he had met on line raises scores of questions for leaders. It is certain to dominate the news cycle until one of three things happens: