Four years ago, just as the economy was digging itself out of the recessions caused by the dot-com bust and 9/11, our friend and contributor, the columnist Harvey King at MyBusiness Magazine, wrote a column in the form of “a letter to himself in the future.” He wrote it, he said at the time, to remind his future-self what to do during the inevitable economic slowdowns he would go through in the future. As we seem to be heading into that territory, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on Harvey’s letter to the future, which, with his permission, follows.:
It’s me, Harvey. I’m writing to you from way back in 2004. I’m hoping you are older and wiser, but I’m afraid you may be getting a little fuzzy with your memory. So I wanted to send you a letter from the past to remind you of some lessons you said you really wanted to remember the next time the economy started slowing down. Good times, the kind I hope you’ve been enjoying lately, tend to dull one’s senses a bit, don’t they? Well, I hope this expensive, painful advice from your past will jog your memory a little and serve as a checklist for the economic slowdown on your horizon.
1. Do it now. Whatever it is that needs doing, do it right now. I hope you don’t have to downsize, but if that’s what it is, do it. If it means dealing with that confrontation you’ve been putting off, do it. It’s a lot fairer to all parties involved if you’ll just get it done.
2. Take care of your customers even more than you already are. I know you said you would never take any of them for granted, and I hope you haven’t. But nothing else will get you through what’s about to happen except the mutual respect, trust and loyalty you have with the customers you are serving (and profiting from) now in the good times.
3. Love your bankers. I don’t care if you really don’t want to, get on the phone with those bank folks and tell them how wonderful they are. I know Mom taught us not to lie, but do it anyway. If you timed this right and you’re still a few months from the downturn, use flattery and your current fiscal soundness to lock down the best and longest terms they will commit to. I know you think it’s crazy to get a bigger line of credit when you’re not even using the one you have, but is your memory that short?
4. Brace yourself. I know you don’t want to remember the pain, but get ready to relive some failures. You’re about to rediscover what your face feels like when the door hits your nose.
5. Be patient. You’ll hate this one, but get ready again for the world to move in slow motion. Remember, during a recession it takes a company six months to approve purchasing a package of pencils.
6. Do not panic. Hunker down, maybe, but don’t panic.
7. Read and study and learn. While you’re waiting for that pencil order, take up a new hobby.
8. Get ready for some great opportunities. When things start looking really bad, take those resources I know you’ve stashed away during the good years and start marketing when your competitors go silent. Get on the road when the airlines report that business travel has plummeted. During this recession, turn on some lights when things get their darkest.
9. Forgive yourself. Remember, you are not personally responsible for the entire economy, just the stewardship of your microscopic slice of it.
10. Write yourself a letter to the future reminding me (and you) how to make hay while the sun shines.
P.S. How are those shares of Google doing?
(Note: That P.S. is a joke – Harvey was not that smart in 2004.)
It’s not surprising with ad pages down that magazines are pulling out all the stops for advertisers in an attempt to gain more pages and boost revenues. Earlier this month Starbucks played with Bon Appetit‘s masthead and now Men’s Health has entered the game. If you are a reader of Men’s Health, make sure your cell phone is handy when reading its July/August issue.
Every one of the issue’s ads will be camera-phone readable, thanks to an image recognition technology from SnapTell. When readers snap a photo of an ad they’ll receive instant promotions—from ringtones to coupons to wallpaper. The set-up is especially attractive for advertisers because of its integrated call to action and defined measurement. With advertisers chasing engagement metrics, it’s clear why the platform appeals to them.
I wasn’t always this way, although the underlying fascination with groaners and shaggy dog stories was there from the start. When I worked as a reporter and later editor at the late Nashville Banner, the copy editors appended most of the headlines to our articles. They sat roughly in an inward facing square near the city desk, and we could hear them murmuring and often cackling amongst themselves as they clarified our prose and debated zinger headlines.
There were many – and many that did not make it into the paper. Such a one was proposed for a wire story about a woman who had murdered her husband and stuffed his carcass under the house. “I’m walking the floor over you!” sang out a merry voice from the copy desk, convulsing the entire newsroom. The one headline I remember as the all-time greatest was about a grisly local murder whose perpetrator tried to cover up with arson: “Headless body found in gutted church.” If “Wayne’s World” had been out then, we would all have salaamed in appreciation.
But since assuming editorship over various titles at Hammock Publishing, I had to get into the headline business. Turns out I have something of a knack for it, and my colleagues sometimes ask me to swot out a headline for them.
[After the jump, read more about the joys of headlining.]
We had a blast. We raised a little money, lowered our resting heart rates over the time of training, enjoyed a course-side tent experience (Thanks, Carrie!) and had some fun. We really appreciated our friends who joined us by donating money, running with us or cheering us on.
First of all, thanks to our contributors. You’ve made great teammates. Thanks to your generosity and to our matches, we are donating $1,600 to four worthy organizations. We will contribute $450 each to the Nashville Adult Literacy Council, Nashville Zoo and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee. We’ve also made a $250 donation to the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee on behalf of the law firm of Salas & Slocum, who graciously allowed us to set up our tent on their parking lot (and only made us sign a one-page waiver).
Hammock had nine walkers and runners make it across the finish line. We may hold the distinction of the longest-travelling half-marathoner of the day. Patrick Ragsdale, who planned to run the full marathon, was nursing a foot injury that was nagging him all week. Patrick made it to 16, then turned back and finished on the half marathon course. If you’re counting, that’s a 23-mile run. And yes, Patrick is on crutches today.
Our Team Hammock race tent was a welcome sight near mile 8 on the course. Those were our handsome red balloons flying over Music Row. Next year, look for the Hammock blimp.
A ‘rex-cam’ view of the race.
Rex took the time to capture the experience of running in this phenomenal event with his hand-held high-def video camera. Check it out here. More than 30,000 people were registered participants, and it seems like half of Nashville turned out to cheer on the runners. The energy of the whole day makes me proud to have this great an event in my adopted hometown. I’ve been a participant in other major races around the country. I’m not sure there is a better one than ours.
Stay tuned to other Team Hammock events. I’ll blog more about what we’re doing next. We’re committed to more than just running. We’re trying to integrate our work and our passions with our work in utilizing all the tools of social media to reach goals. Let us know how Team Hammock can work for you.
Later: Thanks to Lynne Boyer for shooting some video of the Team Hammock Spirit Squad.
Like many offices today, Hammock’s home base is largely cubed up. Oh, we’ve got really cool cubes, all right, but you’re still sitting just feet from the next person. Even the few offices we have put us all within little more than arm’s reach of each other. Close quarters are great for collaboration — many times I can ask a question in my normal speaking voice and get three or four answers immediately.
But sometimes you need to tune out that background chatter and get down to business. A number of Hammock people use music to help them focus. A few of us — me, Barbara L., Patrick R. — don’t work well to music. I can’t drive without it, mind you.
For others, music is the key to productivity. “As a bookkeeper, I work with lots of numbers and repetitive data entry, so shutting out the office noise and listening to music puts me in the zone for quick and efficient work,” says Lisa. “Office chatter sometimes causes interruptions and music gives me that tunnel vision for long projects.”
[After the jump, learn more favorite tunes from around Hammock.]