Positive Thinking

Stu’s News
with Trina’s Tips


Positive Thinking

Franklin Delano Roosevelt may have been more insightful than even he may have realized when he issued one of his (more or less) famous statements…

“The only thing to fear is fear itself.”

In recent months, I’ve experienced many more friends and business colleagues who seem increasingly to be living, day-to-day, with fear. For example…

A lifelong friend worked in automotive steel for years; that industry, especially U.S. manufacturers, is hurting. Business prospects aren’t what they were a few years ago. His real skill isn’t “steel,” it’s networking. He’ll get to know a room full of strangers in a short time. But he’s stuck in “steel” and can’t see how to apply his gifts where market opportunities (and companies) need great networkers.

Another friend owns several art galleries. Between art sales and framing, he’s worth $6-10 million, and has already paid for his kids’ college. While he could comfortably live off the interest, he lives in fear…fear about the future, fear about the economy, fear about the coming elections, fear about the environment. It affects his health.

A third colleague is a developer. He owns nearly 50 rental projects, done over the past 30 years, which produce a steady income stream. With the slower housing market, sales aren’t as brisk as they were – which – instead of meeting the challenge and thinking of how to meet changing times – has him also living in fear, has him resisting changing times, and…also has him experiencing health problems.

Yes, mortgage default problems are rocking the entire financing industry – globally. Yes, what appeared to be solid mortgage lending “institutions” now need a bailout. Yes, some major investment companies are faltering. Yes, the stock markets – here and abroad – are plummeting. Yes, politicians are mud-slinging again. And yes, it could get worse. But…

You don’t have to live in fear.

In reviewing past issues of “Stu’s News,” I noted that I suggested and explained several specific actions you can take to keep your firm on solid footing. You can review them on our web site, so why go over them again? What I am seeing since those issues, however, is a change in the personal demeanor of many people.

Here are some ideas to help you – and others in your firm – maintain the more positive attitude that will be increasingly essential over the next four or so years…

First, attitudes are influenced by “The News.” With global change and instability, we’re eager to know “what’s going on.” Yet, newspapers, TV and periodicals are operating on thinner budgets; they don’t have the staff investigative reporters they used to have. They’re increasingly reliant on less expensive point sources, such as White House briefings or corporate reports, and on the few news services that still exist. That’s why news reporters on TV are often saying the exact same words at the exact same time. And…the best ways to increase viewership or readership?

    1. Alarmism. “The sky is falling!” or “He may be sentenced for up to 60 years in prison!” or “Thousands may be in danger.” It gets attention.
    2. Suspense. “Will our hero rescue Pauline before the train gets there?”  Serials leave us hanging; we have to come back next time, to see what happens. “Tomorrow we’ll have an injury update.”  It works.

“The News” reports events. When you connect several events, you get a trend. Several trends sources let you know what’s happening in the world without the drama:

    • The Schwartz Report, www.schwartzreport.net/ provides 2-4 paragraphs a day that, together, give you a balanced picture. It’s free.
    • The Arlington Institute’s “FuturEdition” is a compendium of trend-related articles from a global survey of papers and periodicals that come to you, free; www.arlingtoninstitute.org, click on FuturEdition.
    • Planet 2025, www.planet2025news.net/ provides more environmentally related information…global in scope…and free.
    • WorldWatch Institute’s www.worldwatch.org/taxonomy/term/63, Vital Signs, has a global data collection on all aspects of life. It’s free.

Don’t get “sucked into” The News; use global trends sources to be better informed on what’s happening, less fearful and…more confident about how to respond.

Second, while your practice is moving along in a positive way, take a “time out” and do some “scenario planning.” Winning teams critique themselves and improve themselves more easily then losing teams; positive attitude. For example…

Singapore hired The Arlington Institute, a futurist think tank, to identify alternative scenarios likely to affect their small nation – tsunamis, monsoons, wars, economic shifts. Then they created responses to each scenario. If problems occur…they’re prepared.

Do the same with your firm’s leadership. If no problems occur, you’re in great shape. If problems do occur…you’re still in great shape! The best time to plan is when you’re having a great year. FDR was right: a positive attitude is everything!

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PDR’s web site, www.pdrinfo.com has been updated. You’ll be able to download the Mandeville book and “Competitive Edge” audio program, and at lower cost. You’ll also be able to order videos, email questions, and review past “Stu’s News” issues.