Recession, Depression and Self-Expression (I’m Freaked Out, Too)

If you think you can be recession-proof you’re an idiot and should immediately unsubscribe from this newsletter or feed. Months ago when the ‘credit crunch’ began there was a flurry of teleseminars and newsletters talking about how it wouldn’t affecting anything or anyone and we should all keep clapping until Tinkerbell comes back to life. Then when the commercial paper markets and credit default swap markets collapsed everyone seemed to wake up a bit more. The abundance mentality of always more, pay it off later, leverage it to the future generation has brought us a whiplash. Dark humor pervades the blogosphere with sites like brokers with hands on their faces. And to write it off as just bad vibes and buzz-kills is to be completely wreckless with your future success.

Highly recommended: National Public Radio’s This American Life did a show on the financial crisis that left me feeling much more informed about what is going on: The Giant Pool of Money (transcript). There’s a few parts in there that might make you dry heave. They had such a response from these two shows that they’ve started a free podcast specifically about educating the rest of us on the day-to-day events as they unfold: Planet Money Podcast. I also want to highly highly highly recommend you watch Elizabeth Warren’s analysis of economic trends of household spending and income in last several decades. If you do business with customers in the US you need to be aware of these trends and how they are affecting families. Also useful is WaPo’s analysis and if you need a laugh read about a visit to Robert Allen’s ‘No Money Down’ seminars.

My biggest concern for bloggers is that the recession-depression-downturn is going to cause a pull-back in online advertising spending. The marketing blogs are battling this argument out right now, some saying that overall ad-spending will decrease and others countering that print and TV will decline but online ad spends will stay strong since they are easier to deploy. But problogging has always hinged on compelling writing, an enthusiastic audience and advertisers willing to pay for access to that audience. This has always been a hitch with focusing directly on the ad-based type of blog income. If click-through rates go down or spending goes down there will be a flood of inventory and no one around to buy it. Some say that an economic downturn will bring more people to blogging as they focus on their next careers and invest in themselves or simply need a way to blow off steam.

But here in Silicon Valley there has been a rash of layoffs (Dell, eBay, TicketMaster, Yahoo, AdBrite, Heavy, Glam, Zillow, Mahalo, Rev3, Seesmic, Lulu, Gawker and the list goes on) as companies tighten their (seat)belts for a lean winter of discontent. This has brought back the old ‘blogging is dead’ meme that seems to be on a 9 month boomerang.

Blogging isn’t dead or dying – just different. When I’m doing a seminar, usually towards the end someone asks about the future of blogging and is it just a fad and I’ve always maintained that it will merge into greater trends. These trends include social media and consumer-generated content – stuff made by ‘real people’ (what we used to call ‘folk art’). The money to be made may be shifting but the trends of anytime, anywhere, always-on, always-archived instant global self-expression is here to stay.

And the tenuous political situation here in the US isn’t helping any either. I can’t stop watching the news, can you? Each day it is ‘oh look, there’s a bit more on the bottom of the barrel, scrape scrape!’ I feel like the world is holding it’s breath to see what happens. I told Ron if they back the trucks up while he’s flying back to divert to Canada and I’ll try and get through the Underground Railroad.

Time to Cultivate

So if sales are down, leads are disinterested and everyone is being a Negative Nancy or Debbie Downer what do you do? Start working on the Next Thing.

Now is the time to start developing your new intellectual property. I’ve had some ideas buzzing in my cortex for several months now and am going to start entertaining them on my blog and here in the newsletter. I need to refresh my courses and seminars and re-align them to the current landscape and get cooking on some new book deals. Focus less on the desperation of making the sale and more on the inspiration. Go back to what inspires you. I’ve missed my seminars and classes and educating people on how all this techie-stuff can improve their lives and businesses. I’m entranced by this stuff. What turns you on? You only have so much control of the chaos swirling around you – how can you batten down the hatches and still lay the groundwork for something new?

The best slogan for networking I’ve ever heard is, ‘Dig your well before you’re thirsty.’ Hopefully you’ve excavated a little bit but by building out your network and contacts now you’ll be priming the pump for when things pick up again. Things will get better. But when they will get better remains to be seen.

Your turn: How are you dealing with the election waiting game, the global financial meltdown and other signs of the End of Days? Leave a comment…






11 responses to “Recession, Depression and Self-Expression (I’m Freaked Out, Too)”

  1. Nancy Collamer Avatar

    Outstanding post Andy! As a career counselor, I couldn’t agree more with your advice to go back to what inspires you and lay the groundwork for something new. Investing in your long term intellectual capital, while taking deliberate steps to tune out the constant drumbeat of negative news, is prudent advice for these times.

  2. Anne Nayer Avatar

    I’m dealing with all the downturn, bailout panic but not paying a lot of attention to it. No ostrich but peripheral. Turning simplifying into a game and moving right on ahead by participating in Eva Gregory & Mary Allen’s program: BeyondSixFigures for Coaches. There are opportunities at every corner and the best is yet to come. How does that feel?
    Anne Nayer, msw, aka “Coach Paradise”
    Where the Hottest Thing Happening is Your Life

  3. Leslie Avatar

    Welcome back (missed you too) and welcome to California. How I’m “dealing” is to focus on the many things that are ‘right’ with our world. You said it too; go focus where you are inspired….your unique ‘hit’ on what brings joy & how best to be a contribution. (plus turn off the tv helps)Anything to get that “good feeling in your gut”
    Enjoy the deep, breaths you’ll take in appreciation/gratitude when you see this below (if the photos do not come thru, please email me an address to use to provide them)–they are truly remarkable reminder of the above philosophy:
    ‘I Come in Peace.’
    If you don’t already think animals are far more spiritually advanced than we humans, think again. Stuart Brown describes Norbert Rosing’s striking images of a wild polar bear coming upon tethered sled dogs in the wilds of Canada ‘s Hudson Bay .
    The photographer was sure that he was going to see the end of his dogs when the polar bear wandered in.
    The Polar Bear returned every night that week to play with the dogs.
    May you always have love to share, health to spare, and friends who care.

  4. carmen lund Avatar
    carmen lund

    I totally agree with your thoughts. What can one do, instead of what one cannot do?
    Actually it is an exciting challenge. I am an artist/teacher/creative consultant and have always been interested in peoples potential — not what they do not have but what they do have.
    I have designed a creative workshop which I have been giving and now am going to take it to the next level. I like the idea of re-connecting people with their limitless potential.
    I believe that it is thru creativity that we can find new ways to approach this challenging time. However, most people have not uesed their creativity for many many years and are afraid to try. I have designed a creative experience which frees the creative spirit with which we were all born.
    I am excited about taking my workshop to business and schools as well as individuals who wonder, “What next and how to get from here to there”?
    I would love to exchange ideas.

  5. Patsi aka The Blog Squad Avatar

    Oh Andy, seems like you’ve been living in that little corner of my mind again, haven’t you. Seeing and feeling things and now you’ve gone ahead and said them, all those things I’ve been thinking but didn’t know what to say.
    There is a harsh reality coming, but all those positive types keep telling me to shut up and pretend, and smile. Which I’m good at anyway. Thanks for your breath of fresh air and letting us acknowledge what is without the panic and crying. Back to basic and doing what I’ve always loved…

  6. Maryam Webster Avatar

    What a great article Andy. I’ve concentrated on my big ticket seminars for so long that I too had forgotten my roots and am getting back to them too. Roots = respect!
    But the fear everyone is speaking of is not attractive — in a Law of Attraction sense. One definition of Fear:
    False (or “Future”)
    Expectations (or “Events”)
    When we are in a state of fear and investing heavy emotions (and lots of energy) in the false appearance of things that haven’t even happened yet, we attract more of what made us fearful. In the sense of the recession, attracting LESS money & fewer resources. Fear is helpful when hiking your butt out of the way of a charging predator, but practically useless in a financial sense, and wasteful of energy that could better be used elsewhere.
    Hey folks – wouldn’t it be great to have all that energy back, and working on something you truly want to bring into being that would benefit you?
    How about some magic – real magic that is – to help? I’m not living in fear, but I’m certainly not clapping for Tinkerbelle either. And I’m making money consistently as I believe we all can.
    How? When the times get weird for the mainstream – step out of the stream.
    One idea I’m testing is offering classes in basic, real magic at a recession-friendly price. This appeals not only on fee basis, but also because you will learn outrageous skills that the average person doesn’t believe are possible. Such as how to instantly lose the fear of recession (or anything else), create beautiful things out of thin air…and other magical skills one might learn at an “adult Hogwarts”.
    Yep, I’m opening Auntie M’s School of Real Magic – working title, and details TBA. Nope, I’m not kidding. Yep, I’m seeing traction. Have used and taught magic for several decades – enough to be very good at it and having tremendous fun. It’s something I’m passionate about teaching others. And speaking of which…
    Here’s some help in a magical question for everyone who feels fearful about business right now, particularly if you aren’t truly happy with what you’re doing. Feel down deep into this question:
    “What truly pulls you so passionately, irresistably that you simply MUST pass it on to others before you die?”
    The feeling you’re looking for when you think of that thing you MUST transmit to others, is the same as feeling like you’re going to pee in your pants if you don’t get to the toilet on time.
    That “gotta go…NOW!” feeling of urgency indicates that you’ve unlocked your own personal Secret to Success. You own it. It’s yours.
    If you use those feelings as your filter and only do work that feels this passionate and urgent, AND work on sharing that thing with others in any way you can, and with as many people as you can – you’ll succeed tremendously. And more importantly, have FUN in your life, no matter what you do.
    Making money is tremendous good fun, and Life can be a joyous and beautiful expression of yourself. If yours isn’t, re-examine what you’re doing, who you’re doing it for (not you? then who?) and ask yourself if this is where you want to be.
    No? Want a do-over? Then take one. You don’t need anyone’s permission but your own. Better than living in fear, any day.

  7. Avatar

    Andy, you nailed it — as usual.
    It seems to me there is a huge global shift in the works. I look at the surge in online communities, further breaking down barriers of communication. In the US, we’re less than a week from an historic election that will totally transform our country, no matter what the outcome. The economic situation has demonstrated how we have become one world community — what affects one of us, affects all of us. We’re making shifts in our thinking about the environment, money, politics, race, war, communication and many other areas.
    I see this as the creation of a new world, and people like you are in the forefront of the movement. Sorry to sound like a 60’s hippie, but it sounds more real now than it did then. 🙂
    Thanks for reminding us to unleash our creativity and our passion and meet the challenge head on.
    It’s time to tell a new story.

  8. Manchild Avatar

    Hello Andy,
    I agree. Thank you for sharing this insightful,practical post.
    Yes, I’m a first-time visitor.

  9. nudgeme Avatar

    Hi Andy
    You were the first person who did a course on blogging that I signed up for, but I haven’t been in touch for a while, until I read your newsletter today and this post. Spot on. In the interim time, probably over 2 years, I’ve got immersed in all things internet marketing and social media, so it was interesting to read your views in light of that eg that you met Darren Rowse as I think ProBlogger is such a great blog. You mention wanting to do some more courses again so I’d really like to hear more about those.
    Meanwhile, I always say ‘you get what you focus on’ so far better to make that a positive than worrying about things that invariably don’t happen. Sure, the current climate is throwing up lots of challenges, and people are finding it tough, but it’s how you ‘think’ at times like this that can make all the difference.
    Thanks for the great post – look forward to reading more.
    All the best

  10. Shannon Avatar

    Hi Andy,
    This is my first time to your blog. I heard you on the ProBlogger video.
    It has been a difficult time. Our company is a wealth management firm. October was a horrible month for investors around the world. It is difficult to watch the stock market. It has affected us. No one can say it hasn’t.
    The hope we have is looking back through history at the different bear markets we’ve seen. This is the 34th one since 1900. They’ve been horrible, but we’ve gotten out of all of them. So even though no one knows when this one will end. We do know it will end.
    Thanks for the post. I’ll be coming back to read more.

  11. John Hunter Avatar

    The economic news is indeed bad. But overall the same ideas are wise today that were wise when times were better. It is just that today unwise moves (too much leverage, not focusing on cash flow) are more costly and risky. Now is the time to be cautious but if you have prepared well (personally or as a business) now the key is to continue to execute your plans (with a bit of extra focus on cash flow in the short term).

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