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On Geoff Colvin’s The Upside of the Downturn

http://money.cnn.com/2009/05/28/news/economy/colvin_upside.fortune/index.htm

Above is an excerpt from Fortune writer Geoff Colvin’s upcoming book.  The article is about business (Fortune readers are supposed to be the CEO demographic) but his Five Moves To Make Now (with some extrapolation) carry key insights for below the C-suite and everyday life:

1) Evaluate employees better.  Colvin talks about company performance reviews, but in our personal lives we also have our teams, so reassess yours.  If you’ve been unhappy with your housekeeper or haircutter or some other service provider, now is an excellent time to revisit that since you need to be watching your costs anyway.  On a personal relationship note, you may have outgrown a relationship or find someone has become an energy drain.  Give an honest evaluation and try to make things work, or move on.

2) End guidance.  Colvin refers to stock market guidance on how company financials are faring every quarter.  In our personal lives, sometimes we track things too closely as well.  This may be financial when we open our monthly investment statements and get depressed. If you’ve decided to only rebalance annually, check statements regularly for account accuracy but otherwise let it go.  Are there other areas where you track too closely in the short term and fail to see the long term potential?  Career, fitness, parenthood, relationship?

3) Manage for value.  Colvin talks about business value here, but this is easily relatable to personal value.  In a tough market, where we are stretched for time and dollars, we may have to make different choices.  Are you doing the things that matter?

4) Expand your mind about risks.  Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, but didn’t think it was the right time?  That trip abroad may be cheaper now.  That entrepreneurial venture may seem less risky now that security at traditional jobs has decreased.  I somehow have managed to take the biggest risks (leaving corporate for acting, investing in real estate, starting my own company) during times when the external circumstances would seem to outsiders less than ideal.  But internally, it was the best time for me, and your internal readiness always trumps external considerations.  So downturn or no, we always take risks.  Which ones do you want to take now?

5) Mine employees for ideas.  Colvin points to businesses that get great ideas from lower-level employees.  It’s always good practice to talk to different people, and collect ideas from as many sources as you can.  I have a show next week, in which I write a character monologue that I then perform.  I feel like my kids and my friends actually wrote it because I just expanded on the clever things I’ve heard along the way.  We don’t have to do everything all by ourselves.

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