Down Turn Opportunities
As a young boy I spent time with my Grandfather, trotting along behind him as he told stories. He was a story teller and a character of the first rank. To all of his grandsons, and there were a lot of us, he was fascinating. He would raise pigeons in his garage, have guinea pigs running around in his back yard, bury fish heads under his tomato plants and eat fried eel for lunch and share it with us. The stories he would tell often had to do with the “Great Depression”, as he called it.
We would drive around in his old DeSoto and he would point out giant houses right on the ocean and say, “See that house? During the Depression I could have bought that house for $2,000.00 but I didn’t have it.” We would drive by a big Cadillac convertible and he would say, “See that car? During the Depression a guy wanted to give me a car like that but I couldn’t afford the gas, so I didn’t take it.” The list of deals that he missed was long and grew longer as he grew older.
The word depression roams the front pages and conversations every day now and has a double meaning. There is the comparison and reference to that Great Depression of my Grandfather’s time and the mood of anyone who reads their 401K statements or labors in the auto or financial services industry. As in, “I am suffering from depression because I feel like we are about to enter a depression.”
If my Grandfather was around today he might say, “Don’t make the same mistakes I made. Times may be hard but don’t miss the opportunities that these times can create.”
It is a story I have been repeating lately as the waves of worries about the economy keep on coming.
It means take advantage of prices, take advantage of the time you may now have available, plan for when things come back. Here are some opportunistic activities for this down time that might help the glass at least look half full:
- Look for a job #1 : Test the waters. Then you can tell your kids how hard it was in ’08-’09 even for a real talent like you. Troll on www.monster.com and you will get a sense.
- Look for a job #2: If you are one of the many who don’t have a choice about looking for a job, and there aremany don’t hide it. You have lots of company and you might make new friends.
- Look for a job #3: Try something new. This might be the time to convert from actuarial work to zoo keeping or go back to school to get that degree in preservation. Look on the job site at www.chronicleofphilathropy.com for helping jobs.
- Look for a job #4: When you see what the rest of the market looks like you might learn to love your boss who continues to invade your cubicle space.
- Keep a glass of water on your desk. Fill it half way with water and don’t let it evaporate. Gin or vodka might be an appropriate and handy substitute.
- Buy a house or two. Eventually the real estate market will come back and you can do your part to make it happen.
- Hit the romance key. Some old movies and TV shows managed to make the Great Depression seem romantic. Christmas gifts were simple and presented with love. (Think your kids would like a string of dried cranberries?) Think lucky romantic thoughts for this downturn.
There will be opportunities in this “special” time, just like there were for my Grandfather. The trick is to discern which will be the really good ones that you can tell your grandchildren about.