Or as former President Bill Clinton once said: "It’s the Economy, Stupid!"
Once upon a time I was insulated from all this screaming, roller coaster mayhem. Or so I thought.
After college, I worked from 1979 straight through to 2002, twenty-three mostly good years. Many of them wonderful, especially in retrospect.
The 1980s was the best decade of my life. I had a good job I loved and was appreciated for, and I made good money. On crisp autumn weekends, my love and I would mount my magnificent Harley - stroked, ported, polished, loud and fast.
She would tuck in behind me and we would become one with the bike, accelerating into our happy, love-infused, myopic little lives. The power, speed and grace of my then radical bike and my consummate skill in laying it over until the pipes scraped into sparks, made us laugh and accelerate harder. The coolness of the air, the sun warming our black jackets as we flew, free and happy, made us feel that all was right with the world. We were totally alive… and utterly clueless.
When the 1990s came, everything began to shift, imperceptibly at first… then with an increasing velocity that spun our heads. I wondered, is it just me who feels these global, economic tectonic shifts beneath my feet?
In 1990, I left Kodak and went with their Biotech spin-off called Genencor. A good move, although Kodak had been very good to me.
Then, in 1995, we had our first RIF (reduction in force). I was what I refer to as “pseudo-RIFed.” Twenty minutes before the RIF meeting I received a call with three offers back into the company.
Within two years I was heading up the place from which I’d been pseudo-RIFed, but now I was faced with executing a new RIF. The whole experience changed me deeply.
Once upon a time, I looked at people on the news with some detachment. After my RIF experience, when I saw those who were unemployed or refugees in another country, I wasn’t so detached.
I remember watching the news one day with a clip of refuges crossing a border during the Bosnian crisis. There were two older parents desperately trying to carry their mentally-ill adult child across the border, struggling terribly. No one helped them.
A feeling washed over me that I was witnessing a future event, here….
That snapped me back to the year 1973. I was a senior in high school during the Arab oil embargo. I remember waiting in a gas rationing line at least ¼ mile long with my father, his jaw clenched tight. As we drew closer to the pump, tensions escalated as some people tried to allow friends to budge into line.
Two very big, furious men nearly came to blows two cars in front of us because of this. The only reason there wasn’t a horrific, bloody fight was because they both knew they’d get messed up, bad.
On that day I realized that the social fabric is thin and can be instantly torn to shreds. I’ll never forget that or the explosive, negative electric current in the air, waiting for a spark. Or the tension in my father’s face as he probably thought about caring for my sister Susan and me.
Many years later, sometime in the 1990s, when working for Genencor, we hosted some Russian scientists after the fall of the Soviet Union. These were brilliant men who had worked on the Soviet space program and were now hawking their wares in the US. They told me stories of the collapse and driving through the Russian countryside looking for half of a cow to buy so they could feed their families. A chill went through me as they told their riveting, real stories. That feeling washed over me again… could this happen here?
I hope with all my heart that we don’t sink into a full blown depression or monetary collapse, like Argentina did in 2001. But I think that possibility exists. There are remarkable and unsettling corollaries. I’m doing everything I can to provide for and protect my family in that situation too, through my self-reliance initiatives.
What I’m working towards is to allow my family to thrive in any of the top three economies below, and survive in the fourth:
1. A good one.
2. Deep recession.
4. Monetary collapse.
I also want to help my extended family, friends and all those I’m meant to serve do the same.
As I said in the book (Free Full PDF) everything I foresaw came true, or dangerously close. I was able to protect my family because I faced the darkness and took action.
That’s all that brings me peace, doing everything I can.
I share this because I care about you and yours. We can create light for our families, no matter what, if we face the darkness head on and chose to take action.
If you haven't already done so, I invite you to download the Free Full PDF of Mid-Life Re-Creation: How to Escape Corporate or Unemployment Hell and Create Prosperity With Purpose, Passion and Honorable Profit. If you have questions, concerns or insights, please share them here by leaving a comment just below this post. I look forward to hearing from you.