I absolutely feel like that old quote out there sometimes. As Oscar Wilde said, "The world was my oyster but I used the wrong fork." Does this sum up or what! I mean, what do we say. Everyone out there knows it's a mess. Is more time going to change things (I do not think so)? Is a change in political group's going to change it (I do not think so). Is a revolution going to change it (well, it might but let's rule that one out, at least for now).
I've never been around forever but as a lot of us can say, sometimes we've seen our fair share (some more than other's). As I look back on what's happened to us, to me and to our country, the economy, etc, we've got a mirror to what we've already been through – that being the Savings & Loan crises in the 1980's. Lender's then, much like lender's back just some five / seven years ago, basically did the same thing. They over lent if you will, based on estimated value, financial forecasting, crazy appraisals, what have you. I can remember rates (interest rates) being in the high teens to low twenty's and corporate America in some cases paying 2 and 3 and 4 points over prime. Can you imagine? Paying an interest rate of 21 to 25% and you are a good borrower. It was crazy!
In an editorial last fall as I recall, The Wall Street Journal printed, Emil W. Henry (a former assistant secretary of the Treasury from 2005 to 2007) wrote a great piece entitled "America's Debt-Ceiling Opportunity". In that editor Mr. Henry goes on to say, if Congress had to submit financial reports much like that of a normal corporation, the US would have shown (for their fiscal year ended 2010) a negative net worth of $ 44 trillion, an operating loss of $ 817 billion, and $ 1.3 trillion of negative cash flow (just makes you feel warm all over). I just can not wait for the new numbers to come out on what we printed in wasted dollars this past year.
He goes on to further state, that if we sustain an average growth rate in excess of five percent for the next 10 years that we would indeed be able to balance our budget for this country however (there's always the but part ) the challenge in getting to such an aggressive growth rate is that for the past 40 years we've only had an average growth rate of 2.83 percent. Crap! Now what.
Folks, this is not getting better any time soon. Fixing our economic opportunities is not going to get accomplished in one administration (whether you like the current one or not) and since we turn Presidents over every eight years under the worse or best case scenario, then the game changes as the new person needs to put their thumb print on it and since we seem to keep changing from R's to D's or D's to R's and the corresponding Congress has the same issues in terms of what priorities we are going to be following next, let me suggest to you that we are going to be here awhile. I mean here is a prime example. In Tom Brokaw's new book; The Time of Our Lives: A conversation, he states, "What happened to the American I thought I knew? Have we simply wandered off course …" it's an incredible read. He gives the example of the current administration sending big dollars to "fix" education today but the sum total of all the dollars for the next year is what we spend on the war in a month. Clearly, where are our priorities? So what do we do?
While we've never through anything anything like this economic turmoil before, the closest mirror we can find is either the Great Depression or the Savings & Loan Crises of the 1980's. In the case of the depression, it lasted ten years and the bottom fell out of everything. The country got re-built for lack of a better argument but there is always the appearance that the War (1940's) pulled us out of it (but not this time around). The Savings & Loan crises lasted 7 years and affected a hand full of industries. Today I'm suggesting we're not even close to a comparison and certainly not the later.
In our current financial uncertainty, we've been in it 4 or 5 years (depending on who you believe but the brunt of it is certainly 4 years) and it has affected every walk of life. Certainly retail is affected (even Wal-Mart has had eight consecutive quarters of declaring domestic sales although the Christmas numbers are not out yet) and certainly the trades have been affected given the real estate industry. Friends of mine who are dentists say folks have cut back; chiropractic doctors have the same problem as work related injuries are down because less of us are working.
I know you did not start reading this to get depressed and for me to give yet one more opinion of doom and gloom. That's not where I'm going. My point is, if we are going to survive this we've got to re-invent ourselves and we've got to do it quickly. Going back to school is not the answer as what would you get re-trained to do? And how long would it take, how could you afford it or better yet, afford the time it's going to take to do it. You need answers now!
They say franchising is the next big gig for us but outside of a talented people I know out there who has the capital for the brick and mortar, who really wants to be a slave to adult day care (as that really is what self- employment is anymore). I mean think about your current JOB and the folks you supervise and if they show up or how they dressed or how they treat the customers your spending tons of money on to attract and retain. I mean, is our next big goal to open one more sub shop or another Jiffy Lube. Now do not me wrong, I was in the restaurant business for 35 years (maybe 40+ if you count being around my Dad's place when I was a kid washing dishes) and I can not think of a tougher business to be in. Its damn hard work and the hours are quite honestly relentless.
I guess this brings me to my close. We've got to help each other and we can not begin to do that until we help ourselves. And we can not help ourselves until we come to the realization that we "have" to re-invent ourselves. If you think you've got what it takes to WIN call me. If you think you've got what it takes to fix this country RUN FOR OFFICE! You'll have my vote.
They say (Mel Robbins, author of a great book entitled "Stop Saying Your Fine") that 1/3 of all American's are NOT happy with their current situation. Folks, that's 100 million people for God's sake. Mel is a huge advocate of us getting out of our own way as were stuck in life. A lot of us get to adulthood and go, is this all there is, is this what's it's all supposed to be about. You've got to give yourself permission, there are things in store for you but you've got to stop making excuses for the small mindedness of who you are, of what you want to be. Mel reminds me of that infamous Nike ad, Just Do It! No more excuses. Do not find it easier to not do something vs. just getting up to your neck in something new, something you "want" to do and fix it not only for yourself but for your family and loved ones.
There's a guy out there I hope one day to be able to introduce you to. I've had the pleasure of not only meeting him, hearing what he has to say but also having dinner with him. I further had the pleasure of him calling me when I was sick in the hospital (and this guy's the founder of an amazing company who gross is approaching a billion bucks yet he makes time for everyone, even little folks like me). At any rate, his words that will just get you all wrapped up inside and really want to tear it apart are something like this. Go home tonight and tell your kids, look them straight in the face and say, that Daddy or Mommy did not have the strength to get it done today and make their life better.
Now that will kick some tail!