A Thought As We Begin 2009

As the New Year begins I’m struck by the negativity and sense of doom being reported by the media. An Echo Chamber has formed whose sole purpose seems to be to convince us that we are facing dark times and unimaginable misery.

Certainly there are challenging times ahead and whilst I will leave it to the Economists to make their predictions for how bad 2009 is going to be, let me share 2 quick thoughts:

Stay Positive & Adapt

To borrow a quote from that classic – The Shawshank Redemption, “get busy living or get busy dying”.

One of my favourite restaurants is the Yaadgar Indian Restaurant in Ireland and when dining there last week the owner Gul Badshah was doing his usual cheerful tour of the tables. The inevitable topic of the current economic climate came up and his view was a refreshing alternative to the normal dour predictions. “Our mortgage and fuel bills are half what they were 6 months ago, I’m tired of the press telling me how bad things are when we are all better off”.

Recognising that is customers may not share is optimism, he adapted to the mood by allowing clients to bring their own wine which of course they did and the result was a full restaurant every evening with most buying additional wine and beer whilst dining!

Opportunities Abound In Bad Times

My favourite read of 2008 was undoubtedly The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss and I’ll finish with a direct lift from his recent newsletter. A quote from his mentor (you can read the full article here):

“While many are wringing their hands, I recall the 1970s when we were suffering from an oil shock causing long lines at gas stations, rationing, and 55 MPH speed limits on Federal highways, a recession, very little venture capital ($50 million per year into VC firms), and, what President Jimmy Carter (wearing a sweater while addressing the Nation on TV because he had turned down the heat in the White House) called a “malaise”. It was during those times that two kids without any real college education, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, started companies that did pretty well. Opportunities abound in bad times as well as good times. In fact, the opportunities are often greater when the conventional wisdom is that everything is going into the toilet.

Well…we’re nearing the end of another great year, and, despite what we read about the outlook for 2009, we can look forward to a New Year filled with opportunities as well as stimulating challenges.”

I wish you all the best of success and happiness in 2009.