There will always be
When you're in the kind of business I
am, you spend a lot of time working the phones, maintaining both business
and personal relationships. Most of the time is spent on good-natured
complaining. After all, misery loves company, especially if you can parlay
the call into a good deli lunch.
I particularly enjoy my calls with my
elder associates. Guys who have seen it all and done it all -- and made
a fair amount of money doing both. I like talking to these guys. They
have names like Phil and Jack and Murray. Names you know have been around
a long time because very few people my age have names like Phil and Jack
and Murray. Most of these guys either served in Korea or World War Two,
and all of them have good stories.
Usually, the phone call begins with one
or the other asking how business is, followed by the usual whining and
complaining, which in turn, is usually followed by some sort of prediction
based on a story from their early years. It's almost always upbeat. This
year, though, it's taken on a new flavor.
I was talking to Phil last week. Both
of us agreed that in this economy, anyone who tells you they're doing
great is lying. But then Phil chimed in with his usual positive note:
"There will always be Christmas."
Now, Phil is an old-time retailer. And
I know what he meant. He meant that no matter how bad things get, people
always have to buy Christmas gifts and pump the economy. But I think Phil
missed the profundity of his remark, given the crisis circumstances we're
Slogging our way through the constant
media reports of terror, anthrax, bombs and "America's New War",
it's hard to keep an even keel. I don't remember ever being this affected
by public affairs. I don't like being on edge. I don't like the crisis
situation. And to be perfectly honest, I don't like the 24/7 barrage of
overanalysis and reporting that the media keeps pouring into our heads.
So I've turned off the TV. I've opted
for what I call "limited denial." Not that I'm a big fan of
burying my head in the sand, but I can't stand the alternative: total
immobilization through constant renewed fear.
The fact is that you have a better chance
of being struck by lightning four times in a row than you do of ever getting
targeted by any kind of terrorist activity -- real or imagined. The truth
is that if you're not symbolic in the media, you're not a worthy target
for the terrorists -- they thrive on media attention. The reality is that
no matter how bad things seem to be, politically or economically, the
good times return more quickly when bringing good times is your goal,
rather than wringing your hands about the bad.
Sure, if you spend your day tuned to CNN,
you can drown yourself in even more bad news. Personally, I've put my
faith in guys like Phil and Jack and Murray, who have been around this
block before. They know to work in the short term to bring the long term
They keep their heads down. Keep their
minds on business. And never, ever lose faith in that one, simple truth:
There will always be a Christmas.