Like many of you, I was reading the newspaper this weekend.
(Don’t lie! For all your digital hipness and despite your new memberships in Facebook and Twitter, you still read the actual newspaper - with pages and newsprint and everything - at least on weekends!)
The ravages of the recession now reach to every page and every section including Sports and Lifestyle. Needless to say, the front section and business section are relentless in stories and analysis, with nary a bright spot. And there’s little relief from television news, with cable and the Sunday morning programs adding to the drumbeat. And then, the Internet serves as a megaphone, increasing the decibel rate hourly.
At first it was confusing, and then just kind of scary. But now, the news about the economy is just plain depressing. I hear – and overhear – this sentiment everywhere now. I hear it from friends and colleagues over coffee, over the phone and in emails. I overhear it on the train, at the gym, at the checkout line, everywhere. Doom and desperation abound.
What does this have to do with your executive career?
The despair wants you.
It’s like an alien virus that wants to attack your body and take over your brain. So how strong is your immune system? Can it withstand the attack? Can it go the distance? What are you doing to defeat the despair? What are you doing to shore up your immune system?
Well, it’s not easy but here are some ideas:
Fight off the tidal wave of information and analysis and speculation during the work day
-Cut web news scans to 3 times per day
-Turn off some of your feeds and alerts
-Stop obsessively checking your portfolio
Accentuate the positive
-The economy is slowing but it hasn’t stopped
-Unemployment is growing but employment is still 90% +
-Some of your company’s products are still selling
-Certain divisions or units perform better than others
Focus on daily to-do list & priorities
-Do something to grow your top products
-Reinforce top performers
-Prune weak products & under-performers
Be a leader – walk the halls; talk up the positive; spread the focus to the troops
Finally, at the risk of sounding like a self-help book – focus on your own personal mental health. The “virus” is real and dangerous. It attacks self-worth and fighting it generates anxiety, or worse. So while you are “tending to your knitting” at the office, don’t forget to take care of #1: you! Watch what you eat and what you drink. Double up on exercise. Read a good piece of fiction. Consume some comedy and remember to laugh, even at the bad jokes. Do some bonding with friends and family.
The silver lining is that you are not alone. Everyone is feeling it, even if everyone isn’t being honest about it.
Erik Sorenson is chief executive officer of Vault.com, Inc. Mr. Sorenson, 52, oversees the strategic direction of the global, New York-based media company. He is widely regarded as an expert on media strategy and industry trends, with experience spanning radio, local and network broadcast television, cable and syndicated TV, and the Internet. From 1998 through 2004, Mr. Sorenson served as president of the MSNBC cable news channel. He has won more than twenty Emmy awards as a writer, producer, and television executive.
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