My top 5 lessons from hard times
When I started looking for a job 75 years ago, there was record unemployment with little prospect for growth. Kids like me with college backgrounds were a dime a dozen. Times were so bad that people were rioting on Wall Street. Sound familiar? One thing I've learned during my 95 years is that history repeats itself. Also I've learned how to leverage my skills to take advantage of new opportunities That worked for me in the credit-card industry and in offshore oil production. Most recently, I leveraged all that into a career as a business-book author. Here are my Top 5 lessons for navigating dire business straits:
1. Prepare to take calculated risks
During a bad economy, everyone wants to hunker down and weather the storm. But for young people starting their careers, this is precisely when they need to take a risk, because playing it safe will simply make them fall further. But let me qualify that: The risk should be calculated.
In 1954, my first company faced a severe cash squeeze. I had one tangible asset to sell in order to make payroll so that I could fulfill a large order for the US Air Force: a 76-foot schooner that my family and I had used for a 15,000-mile seafaring journey. It meant a lot to me. I sold the boat, saved the company – and soon made enough to buy it back.