Yes, indeed, we are on a first name basis now. Do you remember when we met, you and I? It was at your worldwide debut! It was October 2008, was it not? Certainly before then, I’d read bits here and there about you, forecasts of your arrival. Your fame was building and I recall often the term ‘house of cards’ was associated with your title.
Just the month before you made every headline, above the fold no less, from New York to Tokyo, Dubai to Frankfurt, I completed that business degree I was after. Now that you know me, you’re probably not surprised that I went abroad for it. And the coursework, it gave me confidence and conversations, in emerging market strategy development, cash flow analysis and marketing frameworks from the best of the best. Yes, it was a stellar education, but it was just the beginning, just an introduction to you, Recession.
It was September, right before you took Lehman Brothers into your fraternity, when I stepped out of business school and into the marketplace. Then, we met.
Then, we met.
You have certainly taught me more than I can imagine. Let me tell you just a few things that I’ve taken away from our time together:
-Reaching back is just as important as reaching out! Relationships are valuable, and you’ve re-enforced that. It’s the person behind the relationship who vouches for credibility and who lends support during the straining times everyone faces (you just intensified those for many). Oh but now, yes now, I’m on the other side because of what you’ve taught me. Spending equal time being a resource for those who pass in front of me as well as those I once passed in front of, this is invaluable!
– Achievement does not equal entitlement. It means you’re now ready for the hard work! That confidence I mentioned earlier? Well, it was ego, arrogance. Plotting my way into Venture Capital? Starting of my own business and not knowing which off-the-shelf versus online accounting program to use? That’s when you introduced me to your friend named Humility. Humility told me my education and accolades don’t entitle me to anything, but that I should use them to start working harder than I ever have. (And I have!)
– Cost reduction used to be a nicety, now it’s reality. Once upon a time, ‘cost reduction’ was thrown around boardroom tables to impress the boss. And you, Recession, changed that! It’s now an imperative in this new environment, imprinted by you!
-Pair that idea cost reduction with income generation and don’t sit back. That’s right, once costs are reduced more than the passé 10% off the top, it’s time maximize the generators. There is a bottom to cost reduction, you’ve taught me. And those costs require income and they go hand-in-hand, all the time.
-Be atypical. Be atypical, responsibly. Before you, careers were linear: plan, apply yourself, and succeed. Not so now. You’ve left some casualties but you’ve also made some creative survivors called entrepreneurs! When jobs are few, ideas are many. When cash is limited, responsibility abounds. I know see the value in the atypical career, the atypical career with responsibility!
Celebrate success, personally defined success, that is. Before you came along, I defined success using others’ definitions. But you sent the very meaning of the word into a whirlwind- it’s necessity not here to be debated. But now I understand better than ever that I am my biggest cheerleader. You’ve taught me well to celebrate at every step, big and small.
So, thanks, Recession. You’ve made me a better businesswoman!