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The Worst of Times, The Best of Times

The Worst of Times, The Best of Times

Paraphrasing Dickens and the Chinese, thank goodness we live in interesting times. The market took a major hit yesterday, unemployment is up, and the price of a barrel of oil is at a record level.

Yet, last night after two films at the packed film festival in Newport, I had trouble getting into a packed, first-class restaurant at 9:30 in the evening. Fortunately, my second choice had one table available.

And, I know a lot of consultants in my mentoring community who are doing quite well, and are doing business with clients who are doing quite well.

How can this be?

The world is a complex place with constant advantages and disadvantages popping up and down, good fortune serendipitously sticking its head out from behind a bush, and talent always able to blast through the rockslides. You can’t let the things you can’t control derail you. You must focus on what you can control and exploit it.

My advice in any times but especially troubling times:
1. Create new products and services to deliver to existing customers. That is the inside lane as you race around the turn. You have credibility and history, and your additional value will be well received.
2. Raise fees. You heard me. Raise fees. If you have a fee schedule, e.g., for speaking or facilitating, increase it. Be more aggressive with your value based consulting fees, demonstrating still more value and higher ROI. Why? Because the organizations looking for help which can afford to invest are those for which results and ROI trump fee and price. People believe they get what they pay for.
3. Exude confidence. You will not believe how many people I speak to daily who sigh between sentences, have low energy, and use negative adjectives. In the US alone this is still a $14 trillion or so economy. There is plenty of opportunity here and globally. But no one wants to deal with someone who is depressed or forlorn. (This is why I was never moved to go into clinical practice, because by 9:20 in the morning I’d be shouting, “Oh, just snap out of it for Pete’s sake!!”
4. Find a positive support network. That should start at home and branch out to colleagues and community. Surround yourself with positive people, not those who commiserate mordantly with everyone’s hopeless assessments of their fates.
5. Create and innovate. Establish new products. Generate new intellectual property, Look for new alliances. Jettison old and troubling business and free up your time to explore and experiment.

You can allow the times to control you and your colleagues to depress you, or you can step out of the negativity and morass and associate yourself with dynamic achievers and create a powerful persona. Look to those who have been there and done it, not to those who spout advice but also solely sell advice.

You want the ski instructor just ahead of you on the hill, with the scenery flashing by and the wind in your face. In that mode, even a fall is exciting, because you get right back up and gravity is still helping out.

These are interesting times. It’s up to you whether they are the best or the worst.

© Alan Weiss 2008. All rights reserved.

Written by

Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker, and author of over 60 books. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients from over 500 leading organizations around the world.

Comments: 1

  • Michael Temple

    June 7, 2008

    I would completely agree. I am already projecting this year to be my best year yet. I would add one item to Alan’s list above and that would be to aggressively market to current clients and new prospects.

    We have probably all read that in slowing or down economies many businesses cut marketing first. I think this is a terrible idea and very short sighted. Rain Today published a few articles or studies a couple of months back that showed those companies that continue or boost marketing during slow or down economies do even better in the long run. In addition, many advertising agencies will tell clients by holding advertising steady during a down economy or even boosting it may allow them to get a larger share of voice since many of their competitors will probably be cutting advertising.

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