Posts Tagged ‘recession’

The Recession Needs Balls

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

moreballs2.gif
I’ve been hearing a lot of people tell me they won’t do anything gutsy: Friends advising me against certain actions cause someone might react poorly (as if anyone’s paying attention); colleagues warning they think everything should be on pause while the economy recapitulates; partners saying no to events because they think it could hurt their “personal brand” (whatever that latest cliché means); and clients who feel their dulled-out partners might “get mad” over an overly-aggressive PR campaign (their partners couldn’t get press on their own though). Then I’ve overheard many suffering financially tell me they are waiting out this period to see what happens in a kind of take it day by day attitude that emits this kind of what will be will be or it is what it is or what can I do but wait and see. What I call “blah blah blah.”

Guess what? The chips have now fallen once again. Recession is here to stay, and regardless of what Government officials say, this is not a double dip. This is the third one… So get off the floor.

Laziness equals self-importance during a crap economy. If you think somehow things will magically change overnight–look Ma, Dow moved a notch–then you live in a fantasy land and the faster you wake up and stop paying attention to the creeps on TLC and E! Entertainment and DO SOMETHING the better it is for and your bank statement.

Having balls are at issue. The only way to get anything done worth doing is to take risks. No chance taken is wasting precious energy since same old same old sucks; you aren’t doing much to upgrade your position in life. Dare I say: it will help your personal brand?

There is no better time to stand up and say, “Let’s try that ridiculous idea in the office” (and in your personal life too, just imagine) than this goddamn second. It is that simple. If you look at our nation’s checkered history, all the fine successes that came up during down-down periods were when companies, the government or individuals said screw it let’s do it and went head-first to partake of the nuttiest, “over-the-toppest,” and most outrageous thing they could think of in their wildest, and least expensive, dreams.

Why? First, no one is paying attention to you anyway. Everyone is so darn turned inward right now that to get any attention you have to be shouting from a multitude of rooftops (see The Rules below).

Your clients/friends/lovers/associates/bosses/enemies could care less if you’re loud or noisy do because they’re ultimately worried about their own skin. They’ll appreciate you had the chutzpah to make a thing happen when they cannot. (Well, they won’t admit that to you but you’ll sense it.)

As for trouble gathering, it’s like the old saying that I will now make NEW: If it makes you feel good…do it!

There is a big group of workers doing a great noiseless job covering their asses–they worry about keeping their jobs more than doing their jobs. You know the ones: they act like wallpaper and hope to G-d no one notices they’re still there because they just do what they are told. Never make waves, always seem to be on the side of zero activity. Those people are useless. Yeah I know you aren’t one.

Alas, making money in this gargantuan recession is tough; there is not a ton of money for companies to spend. Ah but…when the dust settles ones who excelled with their heart will be remembered; the CYAers whose heads were down will be despised. With that, I offer some assistance.

The 5 Rules For Ballsiness In These Bad Times

1. Be consistent, be yourself
You know, I never thought I’d say this, but you got to hand it to Ex-VP Cheney. He never veers from who he is–even when it’s dastardly! The other day he was asked about the torturing he oversaw and said he wouldn’t take back the decision even if rendered unlawful. That’s an attitude many of us can learn from: not the position he’s taken, but the feeling that what he believes in is not swayable and you can’t make him take it back. In these times that kind of resoluteness is respected.

2. Rule the roost somehow
Find something that you can do at work that no one else can do and MAKE SURE it’s obvious that you are doing it–and well, and a lot of it, and with glee. Oh, and it helps if this is not part of your job! This is not kissing butt; it’s just finding a new way to be useful above and over the norm. Then, when you want to do something outrageous like I’m about to describe, more people will think “Yeah him.”

3. Find the loudest perch–and be a contrarian from atop the thing
Come up with a statement that is contrary to the popular view (like “I hate candy!”) and then get known for it. I’m serious.

4. Think up something fantastic
When you’re falling asleep at night and something weird but doable occurs to you, jump up and type it out on your PDA. Once you determine what you were trying to say, it will be a better idea in the morning. Then that germ of an idea has to be something you talk about with lots of folks. Shift your energy–daydreams and small talk - and get collaborative in a real sense. Don’t be competitive; be outright damning to anyone who thinks it is a bad idea. Remember that if everyone likes it there’s something wrong with the idea–someone has to hate it (it’s the law). And don’t let it get murdered by Committee Think, Inc.

5. Be Known as a Bitta Trouble Maker (Key Word “Bitta”)
Darn! Show off a little. They’re going to talk about you anyway. So in order to wreak havoc, make waves. It’s good to be remembered, particularly since the layoffs are not over, no matter what the economists (wrong) say. Trouble is healthy and yet more common in headier times. These days with so many scaredy cats working at their desks, someone with some verve/gusto will stand out as someone to KNOW. Everyone may be mad at K West, but his tour went on sale Friday and it’s nearly sold out. Trouble? T for paycheck.

And don’t forget: this thinking can help in pursuit of late night activities too.

Bottom line is there is no bottom line. There is no energy or gumption or newness in almost every industry. But you - you! - have one superb idea that is rambunctious and in line with how people are feeling–you can feel its ingeniousnes. I bet you could get others to participate in it, since, uh, they don’t have much going on besides award shows, tweeting, and fantasy football!

You got to be the guy who stands up in middle of a dull meeting and says what are we doing here? As good ole Sally Hogshead, author of “Fascinate”, says: “Never allow the size of your mortgage to exceed the quality of your work!”

Remember you have to secure buy in from everyone you work with. Way to get something going is to sell it, baby. Believe in the idea to such a degree that those whose normal M.O. is to naysay lunch orders might even go “You know! That dude knows what he is talking about.”

Be passionate, have your talking points at the ready, and explain what the agreeable colleague will get for going along. Show them what positivity/money/affirmation will occur should the idea become reality. Make it seem like they co-crafted it by writing down input. Like a Broadway producer once told me: “Never tell prospective investors the production is finished.”

If the ones who pay you paltry cash tell you “no you didn’t” cause you a) took a stand; b) went a little overboard with messaging or c) began to tell it like it is (”Our industry is so slow it’s killing us; it’s time to rush things,”) then you got to find better payers. Maybe you should simply say what I do when someone says to me, Well yes Richard but we should discuss this internally before it goes further….

“Okay I get it. It’s all good. Would you have the person that replaces you call me?”

Tweet @laermer

Everybody Wants to be Everything Sometimes (apologies, Dean Martin)

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Many corporations believe the downward trajectory in consumer spending means they better become something they are not–and quickly. Instead of sticking to their knitting, selling what they are known for, many have inexplicably started trying to be a mercantile of all things.

Is this a sign that sellers are simply trying to be better corporate citizens by providing more solutions to the consumers? No, no no. It is, though, a clear indication that recessionary panic has bamboozled some of the powers-that-be into believing that expanding their businesses beyond what they are known for is actually good business. Example:

Best Buy is the only big-box consumer electronics retailer left standing, except PC Richard but that’s only east coast. (Circuit City is back as an online store, but has no plans to reemerge as a brick and mortar business.) Best Buy is a good place to pick up consumer gear, especially television sets and digital photography equipment. Bought something at Best Buy lately? As you are checking out, the cashier will inevitably attempt to sell you — ready — magazine subscriptions. Yes, magazine subscriptions.

You go to Best Buy to get a deal on headphones, not to be sold Entertainment Weekly or Car & Driver. Is the company really so desperate for sales that it risks pissing off all of its consumers by trying to upsell them on monthly rags AFTER they’ve already gone through the sales spiel on the floor? Sure, magazines are somewhat high-margin products, but is it really worth changing your brand identity to sell a few? Not when it leaves a bad taste in your consumers’ mouthes.

Another strange strategic example: Subway, the sandwich hawker. This chain has a reputation for making decent sandwiches. (They must be good, considering the franchise flourishes in the City of New York, which as you know is the deli capital of the world.) You roll in, get your footlong turkey on wheat for $5, it comes to you in that specially-shaped sandwich bag, and BOOM! back in the office.

Well, do you know that Subway now serves pizza? Seriously. You can order hand-held pizzas from the king of sandwiches. Why on Earth did the braintrust at Subway think this is a good idea? (And wait a minute: why is my favorite diner in suburban CT selling — tortillas?) There is literally no way your Subway Personal Pizza is going to measure up to the quality of your sandwiches, especially when the retail pizza business has been captured by the boys and girls of Pizza Hut and Domino.

Subway, stop it. You are dilluting a good thing. You make footlongs. If people want crummy pizza, they will go to a crummy pizza place! Yes, oh and besides being the deli sandwich capital of the world, New York is the crummy pizza capital of the world. For every good pizzeria, there are at least four baddies. All named Ray Something.)

The point is that if you are known for selling what it sells, be remembered in these putrid retail days for selling what you sell. That is, after all, what your consumers want. They come to you for your product, the one they once and still love(d). They don’t want you to imitate someone else’s. People don’t appreciate that. Just remember. Say it twice.

I’m at www.twitter.com/laermer a lot.

Rinse and Reuse: Lessons of High Line

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

The City of New York is full of parks

What Are We Going To Do When The Recession Is Over?

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Everything today seems very recession-centric. You can

10 Ways Businesses Are Killed

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

During the last mercurial business cycle, I sneakily asked super successful types such as Mark Cuban (Mavericks dancer), Peter Guber (Guber), David Brancaccio (NOW man on PBS), Bob Davis (Speedy Lycos dude), and Gerald Storch (Toys

AMERICA! (sigh) HOW COULD YOU?

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Let’s come to grips with the fact that this country is going down. Straight out — no one is happy. Sure, we’re thrilled to see someone new leading us, it’s cool that some big box stores are reporting less-than-stellar results, and oh yeah Wall Street, don’t get me started, is in a hole it long deserved to be in.

But mostly, we’re mad at our country and countrymen for taking the easy way out during the so-called good years (circa 2002-06).

America!

You don’t need me to review, but who out there wasn’t at least a little surprised to hear about acquaintances getting mortgages way beyond their means, or friends spending money they didn’t even nearly have? Or, worse, companies that were getting away with “things” we knew in our hearts someone should stand up to! Finally, what was UP with the way the people let the Government be run amok by their friends: the money-chucking corporate hounds?

I think for a while now, it’s been hard for the citizenry to stand up to what’s wrong, mainly due to our SSLR drugs (Prozac, Xanax, et al) keeping us feeling good. How can you revolt if you’re dulled? But it’s got to be more than that — it’s time, in my never humble opinion, for us to become more vigilant regarding those we suspect and those (Hello, Barack) we have the faith in. Let’s not just sit around and feel like it’s all eventually going to be all right. There is a time (turn turn turn) to stand up for what we know in our churning gut is just smacking wrong!

Recently on twitter a tweep cracked wise how politicians should wear their “sponsors” on clothes like NASCAR drivers and while I laughed like you, it also seemed like a good way to start a new kind of thinking. No matter what political party you think you’re part of, you are definitely suspicious of IT today. There was Barbara Boxer, who is a good one, on MSNBC laughing and saying to Rachel that the tawdry way our stimulus pack was played out in Congress is “simply the way it works!” But then I see whole towns out of work with formerly fine families living in shelters and desperate for some help from DC.

The scene seemed like a placard for people in power playing with the patsies.

So it may be a good time for red-blooded Americans (we’re not being Dems nor GOPers here) to start doubting the motives of everyone- not cynically, but rather realistically - and seeing politics like usual as the killer of what this nation stood for.

Gee, let’s see. Does it seem as though a party voted away a “spending bill” as if to make a point? And was that point “it’s going to be bad no matter what and we want to be right?”

Gee, let’s see. Did celebrating righteousness while Rome, err, the U.S. is burning, have an awful taste to it?

Gee, let’s see. What contributors to which party leaders made sure that “Buy America” was in the package when in fact that is not necessarily the best way to get the infrastructure truly, finally fixed?

Final gee: Is politics as usual going to be the ruination of what we stand for?

I thought this nation did super well during crises. Now I see how the dastardly “meeting culture” (art of bringing everything to a committee in corporations and Government) has made it easy to paralyze even a major player like us.

We just elected a new super powerful dude with some measured yet electric ideas. This week we will see a central list of what will be done, as President Obama gives us information about the state of our union. Let’s listen carefully–let’s also judge a little. Okay, it is good, as P-Clinton said on Friday, “to think hopefully,” but we’d be better off with clenched fists reminding one another that we are already in hell in a hand basket. If those we elected to “high” office are not going to get us into anything better, we can get up and take things into our own hands.

I say use our vigilant typing fingers to find out who actually advises our politicians, whether it’s fine corporate friends, eager beaver lobbyists or overpaid influencers. Because, yes, our officials really can be the ones who bring us to a place like hell, depending on their actions right now.

Can’t we all agree on one aspect of scary times: blindly being led hasn’t worked for a while!

I’m Richard Laermer and my stuff is on twitter @laermer.

Kick in the Balls

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

A recession of this depth isn’t just a slap in the face of a company’s financial well-being. If the last two recessions were punches to the upper arm, this one is a swift kick in the balls. This is something that takes you down and keeps you there for quite a while. And it probably makes you cry uncontrollably.

Slapped in the face.

With that, we are now seeing so-called luxury brands cowering in the corner, trying to avoid their inevitable fate. Good ole Starbucks

It

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

This in from Bea, a wonderful AE in my office (you did know I

Resolve to Be Pessimistic: An Eager Lesson for 2009

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

The year we just lived through saw unparalleled amounts of optimism. Despite the worst economic recession since the early 1990s, record gas prices, high unemployment, incompetent leadership, and so much more direness, America came out of the woodwork to vote in November on a belief that happy days can be here again

Good News Is Out: Bad

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

Bad news is the new good news. Jump on the bandwagon.



Bad news is absolutely everywhere. It is unavoidable. The economy is in shambles, 50 million Americans are without health insurance, unemployment is on the rise in numbers that scare even me, and 43 out of 50 states are now operating on a budget deficit. Meanwhile, some enterprising projects have figured out how to keep their heads above water and even prosper in some cases despite experiencing these bleakest of times by making the (now official) recession seem almost cool.

Kind of.

A great example of the general mopiness of society today is found on television. Maury Povich, the veteran host whose syndicated

Buy the Book - 2011

Categories

Archives

Links

Resources