Archive for January, 2010

Tentative in 2010?

January 14th, 2010

Everyone I know is echoing any and all optimism they can find for the new year, largely because 2009 was such a tough year for our Portland area businesses and careers. (ie. IT SUCKED) Naturally it is easy to be optimistic when your dealing with a new low you have never had to confront before– anything looks like an upgrade right now. One example… the stock markets value is often reported as being a rebound rally compared to 12 months ago, despite the lack of strong fundamentals usually seen during normal recoveries.

Of course the right thing to do when times are tough is to stay positive, innovate and create new solutions, serving mankind with the best you have to offer, etc. etc. But what 2008-09 taught us was also to check our value systems against reality and channel our energy wisely, rather than extending it into nebulous efforts or in empty pursuits.

My sense is that 2010 appears to be tentative ‘10. And for all the right reasons.

“Tentative” does not have to be a negative state, as long as we treat it as instructive and change direction. If it is a truly accurate portrayal of where we are in our local economy right now, then the best thing we can do is face it, its ramifications, and navigate our way through. That sure beats just trying to fake it til me make it, right?

ten⋅ta⋅tive - [ten-tuh-tiv]

1. of the nature of or made or done as a trial, experiment, or attempt; experimental: a tentative report on her findings.
2. unsure; uncertain; not definite or positive; hesitant: a tentative smile on his face.

It is this second definition I think we should explore, as it is our goal as a community to turn things solidly around. There is a quality that Jim Collins recognized about turnaround companies that applies here. Jim wrote a book called “Good to Great” in 2001 that profiled in great detail the qualities of companies that navigated their way through challenges and overcame the onset of their own stagnation and decline. He described that quality with the phrase, “Face the brutal facts, but never give up hope”. It is also called the “Stockdale Paradox”, based on how a very famous Admiral Stockdale faced and overcame his ordeal as a POW in Vietnam. MORE HERE. It is hard to describe this principle in a single definitive word, as our challenge is to embrace an inseparable combination of both the realities of where we are, along with a rational hope for where we need to go. For me, this awareness has always nudged me toward my most creative frame of mind. It makes me realize that hope is not something we grasp for a fix, it is something you create as you serve others according to their needs. And isn’t that what business really is at its core?

So if your outlook on 2010 is a bit tentative, as is mine, the first part of year might be best spent on creating hope, rather than making resolutions. The brutal facts that face so many of us right now require a greater level of engagement to solve than sheer will power. We are in pretty deep, so we are going to need to dig deep to see our way through.

In closing, one good thing is that in 2010, the personal media revolution is well under way. We are now ferreting out lots of ineffective ways to market locally using social media, and creating tools that meet people where they are actually searching for local experts. LocaSource is the best solution I could create to address the changing needs of local businesses seeking to reach the Portland market. Here is to a wonderful new year my friend. let’s build the local economy together!