This credit-crisis-fueled recession is testing us far more deeply than merely everyone shaving a few costs while we ride this sucker out. And while it hurts, a little pain should bring about some positives that go far deeper than mere penny-pinching. We need to dig deeper to understand more about what makes us good people: fun to be with, smart to do business with, and decent returners-of-favors. I have always (somewhat naively) operated on the “what goes around comes around” principle, but I truly believe these times will help many of us get what we deserve. I don’t mind doing people favors – I just don’t do them twice if the first one never got returned when I needed it.
But we will come out of this, and we will emerge a bit smarter, a bit leaner, a bit more streetwise, and I firmly hope this will bring the best qualities out of us. We may emerge a few percentage points poorer than when we went into this, but the world we will be living in should be one where we help each other out more, and appreciate what we have.
When I look at the way many corporates and people behaved during the greed years, I sincerely hope these experiences bring a degree of humility to us all. I live and die by my friendships – whether personal or work-related, and I know many of you who have the same principles will get through the next couple of years. However, we all know people who just focus on what they can get out of others and rarely put back – those are the people I fear for in this economy, and I hope learn to act with more humility as a result.
Anyway, I will finish this little diatribe with a couple of points about how to treat our friends and colleagues:
People: remember who your friends are. Stop thinking just about your career and your self-interest, but take some time to get to know people a little better – and not simply those aspects that can further your own goals and ambitions
Work: use this episode to get smarter at what we do. Focus heavily on providing value and put in a little extra time and effort. If you are lucky enough to be in a job, remember the unluckier folks who helped you along the way, and take some time to see if you can help them out. If you are one of the unlucky ones, call in your favors – you will quickly learn who your real friends are…
I write this piece at 37,000 feet above the Atlantic, it's my birthday… and I need a break from this presentation, so forgive me this little opinionated indulgence…just this once