Meltdown ‘08

Posted by Richard Moran.

The events of the last week have been nothing short of shocking.  Comparisons to the Crash of ’29 are everywhere.  The downfall and perilous nature of the greats like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have us worried about all institutions.  The latest turn of events makes the dotcom bubble and bust look like a test drive in an Aston Martin.

It is a perilous and serious situation and devastating for those losing their careers and nest eggs.  The last thing I want to do is make light of it.  But.

But these crazy events do raise questions about what will happen next and present the opportunity to make a few predictions.  In that spirit, and you heard it hear first, I present the post ’08 Meltdown Predictions:

1. Retirement calculators will be the most used application on the web.  What we thought was our retirement is being recalculated daily, not in the right way.
2. All Presidential candidates will soon offer you a job.  The promised job may have compensation limits on it and it may be hard to find, but it will be promised.
3. Job search sites will bypass Facebook in traffic.  A new site may crop up only for displaced investment bankers.
4. Company loyalty will increase.  The old country song, “It Ain’t Love But it Ain’t Bad”  will replace “Take this Job and Shove It” when it comes to careers.
5. Airlines will start giving pretzels again.  Since people will curtail flying, it will be the lure to get people back into that middle seat.
6. Staycations will be the buzzword next summer too.  As long as they don’t stay with me, that’s ok.
7. Wine sales will sky rocket.  The attitude will become “Why Not?”
8. Do it yourself injuries will increase.  Professionals of all sorts will try to fix their own garage door openers and it will be ugly.
9. Investment bankers will be the new Enron/Worldcom poster children of good gone bad.
10. The dot com crash will look better and better and sock puppets will go up in value.
11. A Virtual WPA will be created.  A good idea.  Use technology to get people back to work.
12. No one will actually take any blame because the blame will be dispersed onto so many people because no one understands exactly what happened.  So far the blame has included all the CEO’s of all investment banks, Bill Clinton, Alan Greenspan, George Bush, Chris Cox and many others.

Like other periods of crisis, financial or not, this one will pass.  Investment bankers and Wall Street will re-emerge in a newly defined and regulated way.  Many in financial institutions will look at this time as a defining period, the B.C./A.D. of their fortunes or lives and “normal” will take on a new meaning.  Maybe we will all be wiser about how fragile organizations are, even big ones.  Entrepreneurs who are smug about hitting a new revenue target need to remember that the venerable Bear Stearns, and Lehman Brothers all but disappeared over night.

We will get through this and we will be better for it.  In the meantime, keep perspective and keep your job.

Free Consulting for Airlines

Posted by Richard Moran.

My life in consulting at Accenture included working with a lot of airlines. Anyone who works with or around an airline knows that it is a tough and complex business. The general flying public doesn’t know how hard it is to move planes, people and luggage around everyday. To that flying public, it is about myluggage and my late takeoff and my missed connection, all of which is very understandable.

From inside any airline, they know that there are good reasons why a snowstorm in Buffalo will hurt the flights between Dallas and Pittsburg. They know that there are no spare planes to fill in for the one that has a maintenance problem. They know why union rules can make them less efficient than they might want to be. They know why ticket pricing needs to change all the time based on many variables and why it is so hard to be profitable. But I wonder if they know now how some of the cost cutting efforts are hurting them with the flying public.

My contributions to airline world included two major contributions: One was moving the magazine rack to the rear of the plane so that people wouldn’t stop to choose between Golf Digest and Ski magazines and in so doing hold up the boarding process. The second contribution was to seal all the ashtrays on the arm rests. Smoking had long been prohibited and the ashtrays had become the repository of everyone’s gum and stir straws which required constant cleaning.

The tweaking continues but in the wrong direction. Charging for checked bags, and three inches of extra leg room is insulting. Now taking away the free pretzels which are ok with me; I never liked those pretzels anyway. They weren’t really pretzels but more like a pretzel or two surrounded by some synthetic doodads in a sea of some kind of garlic powder that gave all passengers bad breath. People wonder what is left to cut. Since I am cheering for the airlines, the following is my list of ways for the airlines to continue to cut costs and move toward profitability:

 

  • Lavatories could be a revenue generator. Why not charge by the minute? Public restrooms often charge for use, so why not here? On long flights the airlines could make a killing.
  • Armrests are often contested territory. A charge for the use of armrests would guarantee usage.
  • Updates from pilots are often rare, especially if there is a delay. For a surcharge, you could get updates about why you are still on the tarmac four hours after scheduled departure.
  • Barter could be an option too. If passengers promise to stay and clean up the cabin, they can get free pretzels and coffee.
  • The “Seat Pocket in Front of You” can come in handy. They could be locked until you pay for its use.
  • Sitting at a window and enjoying the scenery should be a privilege. There could be a charge to get the window shade to go up.
  • There could be a slot for quarters on the armrest that would enable passengers to use the recline feature on the seat. Conversely, airlines could charge people to prevent the passenger in front of them from using the recliner feature.
  • Flight attendants could charge to chat with customers. It would be extra to be nice.
  • Airsick bags are often used for scribbling notes that you don’t want to forget and for air sickness.There could be a small charge to use those bags.

If I give too many ideas I may have to charge the airlines for all this consulting. But here are a few tidbits they can take to the bank with customers. I would gladly pay extra for the food if it was good. I would gladly pay extra for real service instead of cattle prodding. I would gladly pay for my luggage to be checked if I was sure it would get there quickly. And I would rather pay for everything to be embedded in the price of my ticket than to be nickel and dimed in flight.

To all you airline execs, I am available for more advice. Just call.

 

Tom Brady

Posted by Richard Moran.

It breaks my heart that Tom Brady is out for the season. When he plays he makes football more interesting and the NFL better. Without him, there is a void. Thanks goodness Brett Favre is still around. The irony is that he was held out for the entire pre-season for fear of injury, then in the first quarter of the first game, he is hurt and out for the season. Some wonder if he had played a little during the pre-season, whether he would have been hurt in that first game. Was it bad karma, bad luck, bad pass protection or just the breaks of the game? We will never know, but what I do know is that there is a workplace metaphor here.

 

 

There have been several times in my life when I owned something so special that I worried I would lose it or it would be stolen or be abused by the kids. A pen knife collection that my Dad gave me was one such treasure. So I hid it. I didn’t want anyone to use it or steal it so I found a hiding place for it. The problem was I forgot where I hid it. It took years of searching and I finally found it again hidden in the garage. There have been other times where I have hidden something from the world and the one who couldn’t find it was me, the one who couldn’t enjoy it was me and the one who was in misery because something so nice was lost was me.

Forget football, forget my pen knife collection – think of what you might be hiding at work. No not, those gummy bears behind your printer, I am talking about your skills, your ideas, your special qualities that you hold back thinking you will wait until the better job comes along or until you get paid what you are worth or until they get real cream for the coffee or until…

The only one that suffers from holding back is you and your career. Imagine Steve Jobs or John Chambersor the Google Guys holding back. Those innovation ideas or process flow improvements or your creativity and sense of humor should be brought forward now, not next time. Next time may be too late. The more you add the more you will see. Too often, people hold back and stuff the value they can add in the lower right desk drawer waiting for a better time. That time is now. Get the recognition now, get the satisfaction that you made the place better now.

Entrepreneurs that we see that get funded are not the ones who say this is a good idea – they are the ones that say I think my next company will be built around a better idea. They get funded are not reckless but send out a message that they will not hold anything back to make the company successful and have opinions about what that will take.

I wish Tom Brady a speedy recovery and I wish you would show everyone what you can really do now.