Hi everybody- here we are again, another year end and a time to reflect on the past and look forward to the future. I’m doing this on Saturday over lunch and a couple of glasses of wine- you know, to get the creative juices flowing.
For organizational purposes, I’m going to separate my thought into three categories- our business, the world we live in and ‘the rest of the story’.
- We had such a difficult, bittersweet year. For the first time ever and after many false starts, we will pass $100M in revenue. Unfortunately, it will be our least profitable year since the depths of the big recession. Go figure! Lower sales margins coupled with some unavoidable excess costs like health insurance and some one-time, exogenous events. For me, it’s been the most mentally tiring and worrisome year in a long, long time. But hey, this too shall pass.
- We almost got canned by our second largest supplier. After much worry, effort and some good fortune, we turned the situation around. As Winston Churchill said, “nothing is more exhilarating than to be shot at without result”. Of course, if you get shot at enough times, you’re gonna get hit- so we’re going to manage that relationship better. It would’ve really hurt.
- I love our team. So much so, despite a rough year, we just announced a much-improved vacation policy, as our people are our greatest asset and they deserve to be taken care of. Most of them are simply ‘the best’.
- The tricky part is having a culture and organizational attitude to take great care of our team members but also to address those who, probably unwittingly, take advantage. That is something I’m working on and will continue to do so until everyone gets it! That vigilantly looking for ways to continually contribute is a necessary mindset and that organizational freedom comes with that responsibility. Accountability for always contributing as best you can is the only way to be fair to those who ‘bring it’ every day and the best recipe for improving profitability.
The World We Live In
- I don’t know about you, but I’m so tired of the drama, chaos, turmoil, lies, partisanship, name calling, extremism, rudeness, incompetency and complete lack of class in the government. Enough said.
- The world is way too tumultuous and complicated for me to understand- even though I feel an obligation to try. So many countries fighting so many endless wars, so much discourse and treachery and so much human suffering. You would think things should get better as we learn the lessons history has taught us, but it seems the opposite is true- at least for now.
- I continue to wonder why immigrants trying to come to this country for a safer, better life are treated like criminals. Almost all of us are the descendants of immigrants. What’s different? The country successfully immigrated our grandparents and their parents- why not now? There were criminals then and there will be now- poor, desperate people sometimes take that route. The drug problem is terrible but, as we should’ve learned, won’t be solved as long as there is so much demand. Yes, I do believe in border control and rule of law but not automatically treating afflicted families like the enemy. Should we consider moving the Statue of Liberty and all it stands for to the southern border? Does that count as a wall? Kidding aside, is a wall the most effective solution? I think not, as I doubt it will achieve its intended purpose and I hate the message it sends about America.
- I’m concerned about the renewed proliferation of nuclear weapons. I’ve just read that China and Russia now have hypersonic missiles and that Russia’s travel up to 15 times the speed of sound and can likely defeat any existing missile defense systems. We’re now developing one as well, but where does this all lead? Plus, we have second tier nuclear powers that will have lots of destructive power. I would like to believe that ‘peace through strength’ and the unimaginable consequences to both sides from a nuclear war precludes anyone from starting one, but I don’t know anymore. There are too many world leaders that don’t demonstrate the maturity to have that much power at their fingertips. We should hide their buttons.
- I recall a tweet that Trade Wars are good and easy to win. Really!! The goal of fairer trade with China and the protection of intellectual property are worthwhile but longstanding, complex issues. Imposing more tariffs is a marginally effective, simpleton way to go about it that hurts both sides. The Pres tells us that the money from the tariffs are ‘filling US coffers”. That’s ridiculous- the increased tariffs simply mean that input costs for importers of those goods are higher. The extra cost is paid by them and, in time, passed on to the consumer. There is no money filling US coffers. Scary he doesn’t understand that or that he does but would rather lie about it.
- I listened to a very compelling economist a few months ago who predicted the minor slowdown next year that now seems likely and then a major recession in three or so years, caused by the astounding amount of worldwide debt. Hope he’s wrong but we are now adding over $1 trillion a year to our national debt and yet, although everyone knows it’s a ticking time bomb, addressing it doesn’t get you re-elected. It doesn’t even get discussed anymore and yet we lower taxes without addressing out of date, unaffordable entitlements or out of control spending. And no, there’s not enough sustainable economic growth from tax cuts to cover the loss of revenue. Our economy has been pretty good, yet our deficit is at record levels. What does that tell us and what happens when things slow down and/or interest rates rise? Not good.
The Rest of the Story
- My daughter, Gianna, will be turning 14 in February. She’s a wonderful, kind, loving, funny young lady (still a kid to me) that is starting to look like a supermodel. I’m so happy she still has braces.
- I’m a lifetime Yankee fan but you have to give it to the Red Sox- what a team.
- I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of worrying. When you have a lot to worry about, it becomes a habit even when you don’t need to. Small things create worry when they aren’t worth it. This year, I’m chillin’. I will still do all I can as well as I can, but chronic worry makes you impatient, tired and irritable. Let’s worry less and have more fun in 2019. Cheers!
- It’s easy to feel helpless with all that’s going on. There’s a great bumper sticker that says, “Think globally, act locally”. So, if you want to save the world, go home and love your family.