The Curse of Living in Interesting Times

Geoff Smith Portrait

BY Geoff Smith

POSTED ON NOVEMBER 7, 2011

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I am guessing that about six months ago, most of us had a plan for our futures, based generally on our analysis of the world as it existed then.

If your plan hasn’t been shredded, certainly its economic foundations have been, because that world doesn’t exist any more. And even if your world seems pretty much the same, the fact that is has changed for so many people around you can’t help but have an impact.

Many baby boomers who have been looking forward to a comfortable retirement (maybe work part time, travel, enjoy the results of many years work) have had their retirement funds decimated, and are now looking at full time employment for many years to come;

Many of the succeeding generations (X, Y, Millennials, etc.) have been looking forward to taking over those jobs and other new opportunities, but on their own terms, with a better work/leisure balance, and a high degree of mobility. Now there will be fewer (and more demanding) jobs, the boomers will be less likely to give up the ones they have, and job competition will be a bracing reality; In a recessionary global environment, mid-sized companies (like EllisDon) will be particularly threatened. Too big to be a niche player, maybe not big enough against the global giants. We can likely run faster, but can we run far enough? Who do we have to run over, so that we don’t get run over? No question there will be great – huge - opportunities rising out of this. Those who can predict what the industry should look like, and come out of this period with their teams, their finances, and their technology strong, will enjoy huge success. John Paul Getty said this: “In times of change, experience could be your worst enemy.”

And Jack Welch said this: “Control your own destiny, or somebody else will.”

Everything is different now. Nobody has any idea where we are headed. It is a time of grave threat, and staggering opportunity. A time for some very serious thought. A time that will define our lives, and a time when it is great to be alive.