Kevin Fong - Organizational Design
 Finding Opportunities in this Recession
This week, many of my friends and family who work for the State of California are preparing for a large financial adjustment as they will find their incomes reduced to the federal minimum wage of $7.85/hr or about $15,000/year.  Whether or not this event comes to pass, it has put people accustomed to decent wages and a high level of job security into a panic. This story highlights but one facet of this latest recession and its impact on families everywhere.
As a small business owner since 1995, I have felt the effects of several recessions, and through each of them, I have somehow managed to survive the storm. This time however, I am finding ways to leverage the recession toward some positive ends.  That does not mean that I can deny a 40% downturn in my business from last year or that I have had to work harder than ever just to retain the business I currently have.  But in my conversations with most successful people I know, they have said that it is in times like these that we need to take control and not simply let things happen to us.  My resolve is not just to survive but thrive and make 2011 my best year ever.  Here’s my plan:
Invest in myself.  Since what I have been doing isn’t producing for me now, I’ve used my spare time to deepen my knowledge on other areas of interest.  I’m checking out books at the library and looking at free and low-cost classes offered by governmental agencies and non-profits.  Investing in myself helps me to stay generative and positive so that I’m better positioned when opportunities do arise.
Become an Outreach Expert.  I made a list of ten people whom I thought could help me with my goals and set up times to have lunch or coffee.  My list of ten was more than willing to meet and seven of the ten people said they were thinking of contacting me!  I also found out that a lot of people out there were taking advantage of these times and making changes in their lives. My perspective stayed positive when I discovered that I was in good company and that opportunities were out there for those who sought them.
Make it a family affair.   I have been very transparent with my kids about my current situation and my future goals, and they have really stepped up.  They are more mindful about impulsive purchases or asking to see the latest movie and together, we are looking at more economical activities.  Last weekend instead of dropping  $100+ at the baseball game, we chose to go to a free play in the park, have dinner at home and rent a dvd.  And we had a blast.
Save save save.  It’s difficult to do this even in good times, but that makes it even more essential in bad times.  Two months ago, I established a ritual to put aside a certain amount of money every day for one year.  I am now on my 45thday, and what was once an act of struggle and sacrifice has now become a daily moment of pride, reflection and accomplishment.
These times are not easy, but they are easier knowing that I can take meaningful actions everyday toward a better future.  Maybe you’ll join me? Be bold in your vision, hold onto hope, know that these tough times are not about your ability or inability as a good and hard worker, and take advantage of opportunities that present themselves to you every day.  I look forward to hearing your stories. 

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