Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Next Chapter

This morning was the dawn of a fateful day. What had been suspected in many circles and expected in others finally came true.

The largest auto manufacturer in the world, General Motors, announced losses for the year 2007 of over 37 billion dollars. That's a lot of zeros [$37,000,000,000.00!!!].

If the United States wasn't officially in a recession already then this may just push them over the edge. There are just so many commentaries on this it is incredible.

Housing issues, even less jobs based on the 74,000 lost today at GM and a country [continent] void of production capacity at a competitive advantage. these are obviously troubling times but also quite predictable.

What I wonder is what will the young people do? They have grown up in a time of success, excess and at a time where our culture has heaped unruly amounts of praise and feedback upon them. The echo-boomers are a generation that is not familiar with the tough get tougher and the rest get left behind. Principally they are unaware that Darwin observed something called the survival of the fittest. They have always thrived in a group mentality. Even their companies are valued off of grouping rather than profit. Can anyone say Facebook?

What is left of the U.S. economy today will need to hunker down and drag the rest of the population back and to do this they will need to cut the fat, learn to be competitive like China and India, and they will need teams of people that understand there is neither time nor space for hand holding. People will be judged on what they bring to the table, how they maximize their potential, and how much they can help the business earn money.

Shocking. But true.

The paradigm shift towards a transactional shopper and a more accountable work place is nearly complete and slowly it will start to swing back through another thirty year cycle. But for right now, their will be some panic, some savvy investment and a lot of uncertainty. Especially amongst a group of younger people that has never weathered a period of trouble.

So how should these young people, maybe your children, staff at your work place or just friends learn to deal with the paradigm shift.

They will need to be lead. Not coddled and certainly not left to their own devices. Lead.
this will take time and it will take a consistent level of education. Our leaders must bring the realities to their levels and hopefully not sugar coat the problems. Our new political leaders can not promise sea changes that they can't deliver on because truthfully there isn't any more money for their programs. it will take an understanding and team work like shown by the Japanese after Hiroshima.

A bomb galvanized that country. The U.S. has not seen death like that, thankfully, but one only hopes that their young people see this episode in history as if were a bomb. One hopes that they see themselves as the long term solution.

The U.S. will be back and they will survive; of this I am sure. They have too much pride, too many smart people, and too much belief for that to happen. It is how fast they can lean on a generation needed to help stem the tide that will decide whether the time frame is long or short.

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