FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH
|“Auld Lang Syne” (whatever that means)||
|By: Ron Brounes||
Oh what a difference a year makes! As 1998 comes to a close, let’s all take a moment to reflect and analyze just how much the world has changed around us. Heading into this year, President Clinton was riding a wave of popularity as he prepared to leave his mark on the office and develop a lasting legacy. Newt Gingrich remained just as popular in his political circles as he began to rally his troops for their upcoming campaign battles and lay the groundwork for his presidential aspirations. Senator John Glenn kept ringing up frequent flyer miles on those long journeys between D.C. and Ohio, taking full advantage of that senior citizen discount. Mark McGwire was bulking up for the upcoming baseball season with strenuous workouts and a daily supplement of creatine and androstenedione. Ricky Williams contemplated entering the NFL draft after a disappointing 4-7 season and the “re-assignment” of his mentor, John Mackovic. Nerdy Bill Gates was widely respected for his business acumen and his ability to “control the market” by legal and ethical means. Long Term Capital Management was just another high yielding hedge fund that no one (except the high rollers from the “Liar’s Poker” days) had ever heard of. Chrysler was just another domestic auto maker with a limited international presence. Jesse “the body” Ventura was just another “bad guy”, steroid induced wrestling announcer. Countless aging males were experiencing a little “inadequacy” in the bedroom and longing for a “hard and fast” solution. Speaking of which, Bob Dole was still the most famous resident of the Watergate Hotel.
Fast forwarding 12 short months later, Newt is now just another unemployment statistic in Georgia. Astronaut John Glenn cashed in some of those miles for a thermos of Tang and a ticket on the space shuttle. Mark McGwire is the single season baseball home run leader and an idol to all steroid enhanced athletes across the globe. Ricky Williams broke most every college rushing record, while helping put the once mighty University of Texas football program back on the map (at least for a year). Bully Bill Gates stands accused of “not playing fairly” with his little nerdy friends who are now combining forces to kick sand back in his face. John Merriwether and a few of his Nobel laureate “gurus” from LT Capital practically collapsed the global financial markets, only to be “bailed out” by some last minute maneuvering from Fed Chief Greenspan and friends. “Merger mania” began in earnest as Chrysler joined forces with Daimler (Mercedes) Benz so that every “yuppy” European can now better afford a sporty Le Baron. Jesse “the mind” Ventura became the newly elected “good guy” governor of Minnesota. The wonder drug, Viagra, brought a renewed sense of confidence to “frustrated” males (and their wives/mistresses/interns) everywhere. And Monica Lewinsky became the most popular Watergate resident, while offering Bill Clinton his much sought after lasting legacy. Yes, believe it or not, at this time last year “Monica” was not yet a household word or the butt of countless internet jokes.
LESSONS FOR THE FUTURE
So just what are the lessons we can learn from the events of the past year that helped shape the world? A few obvious suggestions immediately come to mind. Beware of chubby overzealous (oversexed) interns and especially their middle aged, conniving, back-stabbing “friends.” Perjury before a Grand Jury is not necessarily is bad thing. Neither are steroids. Age is merely a state of mind and not a hindrance to successes, just ask John Glenn (and Viagra users everywhere). Dreadlocks and “andro” may very well be the keys to athletic success. Even the biggest computer geeks and the most world renown economists possess a certain amount of greed. Bigger must be better, just ask Travelers/Citicorp, Exxon/Mobil, Daimler/Chrysler, AOL/Netscape, BankAmerica/NationsBank, Deutsche Bank/Bankers Trust, etc, etc., etc. (as well as Viagra users everywhere).
PROACTIVE VS. REACTIVE
On a more serious note, we can all learn something from the events that transpired during the past year. This is especially true from a business perspective. As Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, and Newt Gingrich learned the hard way, always try to “be prepared” (any Boy Scouts in the bunch?) for any potential events that may occur in the days, weeks, months ahead. The new year represents the optimal opportunity to plan ahead and “budget” for the upcoming periods. Review the current business environment and anticipate what changes may be on the horizon. Analyze the news across the globe as well as in your own backyard, and attempt to estimate how your businesses will be impacted. Share these thoughts with managers and vital employees who may be able to lend new insight. Monitor your competitors for ways that their actions may affect the industry, and ultimately your business. This proactive approach always helps reduce the chance of potential problems down the road.
Unfortunately incidents periodically occur that may force you or your business to react rather than proact (is that a word?). No matter how comprehensive your planning sessions are, no one can possibly anticipate everything. The keys to continued successes are to (re)act in both swift and smart fashions. In formulating any company response, make sure that all managers and key employees are always on the same page, telling the same story and a consistent message to all who will listen. When problems arise, don’t simply attempt to communicate a positive “spin”, but propose and implement a plan to prevent such negative situations from ever occurring again. Venders, customers, the American people in general, tend to be forgiving sorts. (Just beware of those independent prosecutors; they tend to be somewhat less forgiving.) Then again, a year after Monica, President Clinton is still quite popular, Bill Gates is still quite rich, and despite Bob Dole’s ringing endorsement, viagra has not proven to be the “cure all” for everyone.
Have a happy new year, as we bid farewell to the “days of long ago” (auld lang syne).
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FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH is a publication of Brounes & Associates focusing on business marketing and general communications strategies. Please call Ron Brounes at 713-432-1910 for additional information. I sincerely appreciate the tremendous feedback I received regarding my most recent newsletter. I was both touched and honored that MY “words of wisdom” were so well received. Then I remembered that my niece wrote the latest edition. Both Lori and Leslie Fradkin will be periodically available for future projects; bear in mind, their billing rates are justifiably far more expensive than mine.