Plenty of lessons in 2008

It’s natural to pause and reflect as we enter a new year. Given the events of 2008, it seems more appropriate to try hard to forget the year gone by. But, as the adage goes, “those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” So following are a few lessons we can all take away from the roller coaster ride that was 2008:

  • Should my business fail spectacularly, draw much public ire and require participation in an unprecedented $700 billion government bailout, I will forgo the annual executive team spa retreat and dove hunting excursion.
  • Under no circumstances will I conduct business without preparation. Be it a customer call or a visit with a vendor, I will have objectives and a plan. This includes if I need to go before Congress to plead my case for a multi-billion dollar bailout. If so, I will bring with me the plan that details the purpose of my request and explains why I will not repeat past mistakes.
  • Should I forget to pack the plan to Congress for the aforementioned aid, I will remember to fly commercial or utilize some form of public transportation from Detroit to D.C., so as not to put on airs.
  • If I am asked to return before Congress to present the previously forgotten plan, I will make symbolic gestures of restitution that may include personally driving a wildly popular concept – such as environmental sustainability – in a completely underfunded and unsupported platform, say hybrid autos. Alternatively, I will exponentially reduce my salary.
  • Should I have a customer wishing to secure credit for a substantial purchase, I will require them to truthfully complete an application. I will then fact check this information to ensure they actually have the means to repay the loan.
  • Should the previously mentioned credit seeker not qualify for the loan, I will not take it upon myself to invent untraditional terms that falsely give them hope that they can repay the loan and not result in default.
  • I will not entertain good customers with a fishing trip off the coast of Somalia.
  • I will impress upon my employees and peers the value of having gainful employment, serving the customers’ true needs and striving to innovate on a daily basis. Business decisions made solely to increase volume or meet arbitrary month-end sales goals puts employees and customers out of work.
  • I will never think that any business or business plan is unshakeable. In 2008, there were too many marquee failures and noteworthy under performances to ever trust a company unconditionally. I never will put all of my eggs in the one proverbial basket and I will always have a backup plan.
  • I will make note that even the best economic predictors and predictions are subject to uncertainty. I will always be prepared for several magnitudes of problems beyond what the best seers say.
  • I will not, under any circumstance, until I am absolutely, absolutely sure this has passed and there is some semblance of market stability, look at my retirement accounts.
  • And, lastly, I will understand there are many, many factors that influence my business, that of my customers and the economy in general. I will not fret over these factors. I will do what I always have. I will put my nose to the grindstone, I will inspire those around me and I will make my business, and those of my customers, as profitable as I possibly can.
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