Daily Archives: September 6, 2009

One … One Home Foreclosure …

Somehow, I don’t think even the Count is laughing now. After all, I’m sure his mansion is on the foreclosure list too.

That’s why I find this recent announcement from Sesame Workshop on it’s upcoming special on Families Standing Together: Feeling Secure in Tough Times both humorous and frightening at the same time.

In today’s economic climate, approximately two out of three middle class families are at high risk of sustaining or losing their economic security. Moreover, increases in job loss and income cuts have made families struggle with basic costs like housing, medical care, transportation, food, clothing, and child care. Too often, parents are being forced to make difficult decisions that affect their children’s well-being.

In response to these recent changes in family economics, Sesame Street has produced, in association with David Letterman’s production company Worldwide Pants Incorporated and Lookalike Productions, a new PBS primetime special that aims to help families with children, ages two to eight, experiencing difficult economic circumstances by offering strategies and tips that can lead to positive outcomes for their children’s physical and emotional well-being during this tough economic climate which will air on PBS on September 9 and feature Grover and Elmo.

I just hope “rich-poor” doesn’t replace “near-far” as classic Grover.

McKinsey’s Leadership Lessons for Hard Times

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A recent article in McKinsey, which was based on a series of interviews with 14 CEOs and Chairmen of big companies like 3M, Tyco, Pepsi, P&G, and Sysco, described some emergent leadership lessons for hard times that was a good read. The harder times get, the more important good leadership is. Anyone can lead during a boom when consumers are spending freely and impulsively … but it takes a special type of leader to lead when the sky is falling all around you.

While not a complete list of lessons that a leader needs to learn, the following five lessons that emerged from McKinsey’s discussions are definitely critical.

  • Confront Reality
    The sooner you accept reality, even if it is a drastically constricting market, the sooner you can start dealing with it. The first company to deal with it is often the winner.
  • Put Strategy First
    Strategy should be the first item on the agenda of every board meeting … and you should be taking advantage of everything your board members have to offer.
  • Be Transparent
    At all levels. You will need the support and trust of your employees to make it through … and that will require regular, open, communication. Openness builds respect, trust, and solidarity which in turn helps employees stay focussed.
  • Build a Culture
    A culture binds a company together and helps to create trust.
  • Keep the Faith
    Even a crisis has opportunities, and since the nature of markets is that they follow up and down cycles, things will eventually get better.

And whatever you do, avoid the axe. Use a scalpel if you must, but never the axe. Chopping off the arm when you only needed to remove a finger just doesn’t make sense.

For a much deeper discussion, refer to the article. While a bit lengthy at 6 pages, it’s definitely worth it.