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Comparing the Cubs and the Economy With 2 Key Words

By Scott Costa, Publisher, tED magazine

I’ll start this by revealing something that a lot of you probably will find difficult to understand.

I really, really, really don’t like the Chicago Cubs.  And I am from Chicago. So watching what they are doing this season is hardly what I would call a dream come true for me. But even I have to admit something is happening this summer that might become magical.

I am reminded of that by two words that have been re-appearing this week.  “Correction” is the first one.  Interesting word, especially when we are talking about the economy.  I am listening to the financial experts on TV.  I am listening to the financial experts when it comes to business decisions.  I am listening to financial experts who are sending me e-mail because they are helping me with my personal investments.  They are all using the same word.  “Correction”.  As in, “What is happening in the stock market this week is a ‘correction’ in our economy.”

Here are my questions.  Correction from what?  Has our economy been a mistake for the past 5 to 7 years? Is the economy in 2009 the way the economy is supposed to be? Because that certainly doesn’t feel right.

I believe the answer to those questions is this: our economy actually is pretty good right now.  I’ll leave politics out of this.  I’ll use the tED magazine quarterly research that has shown growth in electrical and datacomm areas in every quarter for the past three years, except for the winter of 2014, when the weather brought much of the country to a standstill.

While the economy is pretty good, you have to prepare for the next correction. Are you upgrading your technology, investing in e-commerce, building a more cost-efficient way to deliver products or re-arranging warehouse operations?  The decisions you make while the economy is going through this “correction” is going to make the decisions you have to make the next time the economy is similar to 2009 a lot easier.

Even the Cubs made some corrections. In 2009, they finished four games over .500.  Since then, it got a lot worse. But thanks to some smart decisions, they are enjoying success this season. Do you think they are going to sit back and be concerned about the next “correction,” since correct to the Cubs is not making the playoffs?

No, the Cubs are enjoying this. And they are investing in their future with some quality, young players who are going to be around for a long time.  The goal is to win this year. And it’s to win for a long time.  I hate to say this, but it looks like they are prepared for the next downturn, and they will remain competitive for quite some time.  Follow their business model, and make your major decisions while the economy is still good.

The other word is “Culture”.   We have all heard a lot about culture in the past few years.  There is a lot to be said about making sure all of your employees are included in decision-making, mentoring, a work-life balance and providing opportunities for the future.  But something else that makes culture a success is success itself.  I have been fortunate to work at companies that have enjoyed incredible success.  Everyone came into work ready to attack the day.  People talked to each other about strategies for success along with how their personal lives were going.  I saw a lot of smiles and laughter as we did better than the competition and enjoyed seeing our work paying off.  There was very little, if any, turnover.  Everyone really liked spending 8-12 hours a day working together.

I have also worked at companies that were not successful.  A lot of closed-door meetings. Grumbling about every minor detail that was wrong (including “the coffee isn’t hot enough”).  Back stabbing about co-workers not pulling their weight.  No one wants to work in that culture, regardless of the strength of the management team.

Compare that to the Cubs right now.  I see a lot of guys enjoying the game.  Celebrating with each other.  I would bet the Cubs dugout is a much more fun place to be today than it was in 2009.

It is up to you to create those opportunities for success by looking to the future to make sure you have the necessary tools.  It can’t happen through magic. If you are managing your company the same way you managed it in 2009, you are missing out on an opportunity to take advantage of an economy that might not get much stronger.  Ever.

Don’t let the next “correction” have a direct impact on your “culture”.  Prepare for it now, while the times are still good.

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