Wednesday, November 4, 2009

#14 Damaged Goods

August 27th 2009

Damaged Goods

We are now roughly 18 months into the "credit crunch" and many of us are changed people. A lucky few will come out of this unscathed. However, for the majority of us who have been kicked, beaten and punched, we are now classified as damaged goods. I equate it to trying to date someone who has just got out of a bad relationship. They are untrusting, emotionally unbalanced, and are carrying around Louis Vuitton steamer trunks of baggage.

But if most of the work force is now somewhat damaged, how is that changing our work and home environments? For starters, pessimism has become the norm. No one is putting their hand up and saying it's going to be alright. That's probably because for a few of us, it won't be alright and it may never be alright again. But what about the rest? The majority will come through this hopefully smarter and more money and business savvy. Surely that is something to be positive about?

Starting this company during a recession has taught me quite a bit that I certainly would not have learned had I started up during a boom time. Firstly, mistakes are costly. They are costly at any time, but they are particularly costly during a recession. I used to make the same mistake twice and learn by the third time. Now I only make them once. Another lesson that has come out of these times is the importance of consistency. When the whole world is up and down and everyday there is some new drama on the front page of the news, consistency is often the best way to keep things going. I don't have the luxury of being moody. Regardless of what is happening, if I remain calm and relatively consistent so will everyone else.

But the most compelling lesson over the past year has been humility. Quite a few of us who were flying pretty high have undoubtedly learned this lesson. Very few of us are untouchable and looking around, the beatings we have taken are anything from a simple black eye to severed legs. People are more fragile now and breakable. This makes hiring an interesting exercise. Whether one is hiring an experienced person or a grad, if they are on the market they are in the damaged goods box. The grads have now spent the entire summer job hunting with little to no success and you can see in their eyes they are close to losing hope. The prospect of still being unemployed by Christmas is a fear that will become a reality for many of them. The experienced hires are often more beaten and near defeated. Many of them coming from the banking sector and have yet to find their feet in this new world of doom and gloom. It's like rescuing an abused dog and will take months, if not the entire year to coax them back to where they once were.

Damaged goods...we are all licking our wounds and for some of us, our bandages are almost ready to come off. But there is little doubt that many of us will never be the same again.

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