Surviving The Downturn

Last Tuesday, Amy and I convened a conversation. Sponsored by the local Chamber of Commerce to bring the business community together to consider: Surviving the downturn.

To our surprise, most reported no loss of lift, no panic. No one wore a barrel.

How does one take the temperature of a town? I'd spent the morning waiting with my dad while my mother was injected, inspected, reflected, and ultimately rejected for now: no obvious cause. Scheduled for continuing tests. Conclusions inconclusive.

Life, being holographic, presents herself in various equivalent disguises. Where ever I go, there she is. The phantom hitchhiker. "Say, isn't that the same woman we passed a hundred miles back?" Rod Serling authors every life.

So we convened, listening more than facilitating. Prepared to be changed by what we heard. What DID we hear? The conclusions inconclusive. More tests coming.

How to represent what we heard? One way is a word cloud- see above graphic. Another is word jazz, where the sound and shape and meter carry as much meaning as the words: see below-

I sat on the bar while Amy roamed. Almost twice the expected number arrived for con-ver-sa-tion. In a room unsuited to our purpose, we listened.

We convened. They did the talking.

How’s your business been impacted? Most said not at all. A couple claimed to call their clients, rather than drive to reach them now. One does her rounds on a Harley claiming that improves relationships. We’re all in the relationship business. How will we stay connected now? Here’s a tip: Fewer trips.

Real Estate professionals crowing: lots of inventory, prices fairly steady, though it is a buyer’s market now.

Tim Larkin reported that, when bank stocks went south, $100 million evaporated from this valley. This was mostly investment money, so no one’s missing meals except, perhaps those who rely upon donations from the better heeled and the restaurants might feel the pinch of people pinching penny stocks—so recently, real equity—and suddenly feeling poor.

On the other hand, fat commodity prices offset the markets here. The farmers haven’t made this much cash in a generation.

Then there’s the wine. Fine, we agreed, but not an economy.

Investors from West of the mountains are turning homes into “properties.” (That’s not much of an economy, either.)

And the construction workers at the Mall renovation left town until their payroll starts again. Where’d it go? No one knows.

Is the wolf at the door? 

Focus now on value. Maybe the recession is only headline news. Stop watching the news and maybe we can choose to let the downturn pass our valley by. 

Afterwards, quiet words: 

“I think these people are delusional! In denial!” 

“It’s early in the cycle yet.” 

“This is all Jimmy Carter’s fault!” 

“Pleased to meet you.” 

“Charmed, I’m sure.”

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