The sun might still be shining in California and on the beaches in St. Martin, but the tension in lower Manhattan is tangible. Crashing markets, bank bailouts, and government investments in the private sector are the new norm.
Doom and gloom surrounds us and this writer can't help being affected by it all.
The subsequent record number of prescriptions for anti-anxiety and anti-depressant meds is another symptom of the larger illness in society today, but I'll come back to that in a minute. In the meantime, let's take a closer look at what you can do to avoid being caught up in the hoopla.
Listen to a lot of Peter Gabriel. Not "Shock the Monkey" Peter Gabriel, more along the lines of "The Book of Love" Peter Gabriel. The idea is to stay calm, people.
Is the market going to come back? Will AOL and Yahoo combine forces to form mediocre search? Once AOL and Yahoo have combined, will Microsoft step into a big cow pie by trying to buy the amalgamated mass before it has a chance to find itself?
The answer to all of these questions? Probably. I'm hoping that the search sector will benefit from more realistic corporate valuations. Consolidations benefit all of us in that crashes tend to bring sobering perspective to the negotiating table.
The market will rebound, hence the "Bull and Bear" analogies. Of course, one of the biggest mistakes companies make in times like these is the tendency to charge backward by buying as much bargain talent as they can. Sadly, they leave out considerations for the human equation.
Scary Holding Patterns
What tends to happen in the marketing world when the rest of the world freaks out? Nothing. Well, not nothing -- more like a whole lot of planning, preparing for strife, and running around with our collective hair on fire.
In other words, a whole lot of nothing.
People get desperate when the money disappears. They behave erratically. Employees, vendors, and partners can see the fear in their eyes. RFPs get put on hold, initiatives stay in holding patterns, insertion orders and SOWs collect dust.
What management should be doing at this point is taking the role of confident reassurance. The old cliché rings true: never let them see you sweat. It's OK to be terrified, as long as your people don't know about it.
While everyone else is running around putting out hairy flames and remedying paranoid illusions, you can remain focused on the obviously bumpy road ahead.
Go ahead and plan. Remain calm. Change agencies if you like. Take advantage of everyone else's down time to get better service. Launch initiatives with the people you want to reach in mind, not the strife around them.
I promise the rewards will be there.
Wiping the Slate
Now is the time to invest in our collective futures. Maybe that means picking up cheaper keywords or maybe that means taking a closer look at internal economic conditions with newer, cheaper, and possibly more efficient technologies.
In the last few years of (depending on how you look at it) either economic prosperity or economic lunacy, "we the people" have enjoyed the benefits of carelessness.
I can tell you from wandering around Wall Street that the fat, dumb, and happy cocaine smiles from brokers have once again left us.
The likelihood that we've evolved enough as a society to avoid once again repeating this vicious up and down cycle is minuscule. That doesn't mean you have to get caught up in the new insanity. If you're smart about it, you might just benefit from the downside and create your own upside.
At least, that's what I'm going to do.
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