There is an old Chinese proverb: May you live in interesting times. The premise is that when things are going well and the living is easy one tends to learn and grow less than when times are more uncertain. Well, I think it is fair to say for most of us working in and with the remodeling industry we are being “blessed” with many opportunities to learn and grow, and we will be given even more through the New Year! I want to share with you some thoughts about what you can do to take “interesting times” and work in them without being destroyed by them. My perspective is a product of having run a remodeling company for 29 years and having worked with 100’s of remodeling contractors as a meeting facilitator and consultant for the last 9 years. I also do a fair amount of reading of newspapers, periodicals and books as I try to find different ways of seeing the world. What can you be responsible for? As remodelers we are very focused on results. After all, results are the reason why clients pay your company. Clients don’t buy process. In these times it is very easy to get frustrated and depressed because the processes and actions that you have been taking for several years are not producing the same results. You cannot be responsible for results not occurring. I can’t stress that enough. Results are beyond your control. You can only be responsible for what you decide to do, what processes and actions you decide to take. And for doing what you think will be effective when you say you are going to do it. The big challenge AND opportunity these interesting times give you is to examine thoroughly what you have been doing and to decide what you are going to do differently, with an eye towards what might be more likely to produce the results you want. And I am serious that you regard this as an opportunity and not a curse. The only thing you can change is your attitude! Marketing is a good example. Many remodelers spent money on different strategies that “worked” in the recent past. By “worked” I think that means that work was coming in and sales were being made. The question of whether or not the strategies were producing the work did not get asked as much or as often as it should have been. When sales are happening who cares that much anyway? Now the money to invest in the typical marketing strategies and their true effectiveness is becoming apparent. Your choice is to keep on doing the same thing or to consider some new strategies that are likely to be more effective and cost less to implement. You have already probably read about the power of face-to-face marketing. It is inexpensive and very good at creating relationships. Calling past clients, taking people to lunch, learning about them and simply letting them know you are interested in them is very powerful. People buy from you if you have invested in creating a relationship with them. I believe it is less important what you can do for them then how a potential client feels about you. But you are uncomfortable interacting with people, the whole idea of networking drives you nuts, and you would rather keep on doing what you were doing to generate business. Okay, then be prepared to live with the same results! Be the person you WANT to be, not the person you can get away with being Now that what you decide to do is so important it is imperative that you do what you really want to, not what comes easiest. As a leader you are always sending messages to those you work with and for. What is the message you are sending? Are you doing what you say or doing what will simply get you by for now? The strong will survive is a saying that can be applied to these times. I think that the truth might be better put. The people who are disciplined will survive. Doing what you know needs to be done, and doing it over and over will be the keys to success in 2009. If you decide a strategy is worth doing then calendar when it will be done. When engaged in the strategy be 100% present. Track the results. If it is effective keep on doing it. If it is not, then come up with some different strategies. We are what we do, not what we say. In interesting times that is so important to keep in mind. Perspective is key to success You will be challenged in the coming days, weeks and months. Embrace that fact, don’t bemoan it. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. A powerful saying is “You can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf”. Never surfed before? In these interesting times it is time to learn!