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Reality Check

December 2010


I am going to take a minute, here at the outset, to have a quick conversation with you, which I am told by many that America does not want to hear. No political animal will say this out loud. Earlier I called it a sea-change.


A LOT of mid-range middle management jobs are not returning. Period.


More to the point I think this is about how people will become employed in the future. Once again the Boomers and GenX will get the blunt end of this large spear pointed at the economy, because the big companies will be doing business very differently in the future. That translates to more hours, less pay, and younger workers. Employers have figured out how to do more with less, from written reports to customer service. Employers who offer good healthcare are able to pay their workers less because workers want the healthcare. Positions are not being filled as existing workers take on more work for fear of being fired. It is a fat payday for corporations who watch their bottom lines swell as their overhead decreases.


So while you are sending out resumes,  networking to the best of your ability,

and proceeding to reestablish your old life, I want you to put down a parallel track. I want you to ACTIVELY have conversations with those who are part

of your day to day life about what ELSE you can to do make a living.


I want you to imagine an alternative future.


Most of us grew up in the 50's, 60's or 70's. It was a time when anything felt possible, when the future was ours to make, and the opportunities were there if we just walked through the door. While law and medicine were still bastions of male control, some women went through that door. Of course, that has entirely changed now, but it changed because some women said COW DUNG when they were told it was too hard a career choice. Some geeky guys disappeared into garages and came out the other side as millionaires, making geeky pretty sexy.


My point is that you have to REMEMBER what it felt like to really believe in yourself, and your ability to make up a life out of whole cloth. You have to

grab onto that feeling, remember how it felt, and not let the panic of this moment numb you into irrational behavior.


In allowing my mind to wander over this problem, I was struck by the notion that we are about to not only reinvent ourselves, we are also about to reinvent the way we live as a culture. I think it is probably somewhat safe to say that everyone will be a lot more wary of big companies and their big promises. I suspect that folks will be more likely to set up their own retirement accounts, to monitor them with a lot more attention to detail, and NEVER to assume that their experience will guarantee a job. In other words, even as employees, folks will behave as if they are independent contractors, and in the end I suspect it will save a lot of grief.


So the second track of your NEW master plan not only involves creating a business you can do, a dream you can turn into a business, or an ability you can polish into a business, it also includes a reality check on your lifestyle. One of the best parts of being young was that we didn't need much to get on with it. With a family this equation becomes more complicated, but the essential structure is

still the same, and you have to ask yourself “what do I/we NEED to keep a roof up and food on the table, gas in the car, and enough healthcare to meet our needs.

Ditch Aruba , Tuscany , a BMW and Yale. Look at success for the moment as

a roof, food, gas and healthcare. Look at what you needed when you were 23.”


When you answer THAT question, minus all the gadgets you have that hook-up to the internet except one for the house, cheap cell for family communications,

and anything else you can combine into a sensible overhead, you have a starting number. That is your NUT. You will work everything to that number as you

build your business, and finally a website to support that business.


Plan for Track 2 as if your life depended on it.

Because, as I said, you may find that the target has moved so far that you no longer have the arrows to hit it, but you will have a NEW PLAN already

in the works.


Two-track planning is NOW the new reality, even if you still have a job.

Two-track planning is what you do if you have just been hired, as you all know last hired is first laid-off unless you have a really high-functioning skill that

makes you head-hunter material. If you don't PAY ATTENTION.





The culture that will survive all of this is a culture set-up much like a good neighborhood, with small shops and businesses that offer either services or products. Services are local, and goods are both local and national. You are becoming part of a neighborhood, and if you do it right you will not need the fixed overhead of a brick and mortar presence to succeed.


But first you have to get off your intellectual ARSE, chuck that bucket of denial you are totting around, and get off the fence, before you are pushed from behind.


e-mail me at


I will be adding more material relatively soon.

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