Monday, December 22, 2008

From The Desk of Ed Eppely

A message from our senior leadership team.

Dear clients and friends,

I think we can all agree that this has been a challenging year for everyone. As the stock market continues to waver, the credit markets remain frozen and the government continues to it's effort to repair the current economic condition, here's what I don't know about the situation confronting our mutual businesses:

  • I don't know how long the economic uncertainty will last.

  • I don’t know how well the government's efforts will work.

Here's what I do know:

  1. You can't "expense your way to victory" in soft or declining markets. In fact, most businesses can't cut enough expenses to remain viable in prolonged down markets.

  2. These unusual conditions are forcing companies to make choices about marginal performers that should have been made months or years ago.

  3. Likewise many of these same companies are being forced to decide whether they will operate their business in a manner consistent with their stated values. It’s interesting to see how senior management responds to short-term problems vs. prolonged significant gut-wrenching strife.

  4. Right now we all want leadership from our boss, our spouse, our pastor, priest, rabbi, mullah, governor and president. Employees, vendors and customers want to see the senior management of every company lead their organizations. We all want to know that those in charge have a credible plan to help us navigate these uncertain times.

Having experienced at least three downturns of this kind before, here's what I would tell anyone who asked for my opinion on how to survive and thrive right now.

  1. Make a list of the things you/your department, company or family can control vs. the things you can't.

  2. Set at least 2 quantifiable goals (outcomes with dates) for each thing you can control that when accomplished will make some kind of progress. Then ruthlessly pursue those goals.

  3. Make mistakes of commission, not omission. Swing the bat! Throw caution to the wind. Now more than ever you have to get outside your comfort zone.

  4. Exercise hard at least three times per week. Now more than ever you need to find an emotional release. You'll sleep better, you'll feel better.

  5. Confide in your spouse, seek the counsel of those who have been through tough times. Our significant others want to help us. Give the gift of letting them do so. So often we think the good old days never saw anything like today. Nothing could be further from the truth. Someone smarter than me said many years past, "every generation must beat out anew the truth."

Finally, remember we tend to fear that which we don’t understand. There is a Cycle of Change that every company should explain to their people right now. This Cycle helps people understand what they currently have or what they could experience emotionally. Helping our employees become aware of what they feel doesn't make their emotions go away. But it dramatically changes their attitudes when they learn that it is predictable.

I don't have all the answers. But I do know that these trying times create amazing opportunities for those who fight the right battles and don't fall prey to a victim mentality.

Best wishes to you and your families from all of us at Dale Carnegie of Ohio & Indiana.

Ed Eppley,
Senior Vice President, Dale Carnegie Training of Ohio and Indiana

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