Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thriving, not just surviving, in hard times

We've been through bad times before. After 9-11, when every event on our calendar was cancelled, we came up with the idea of entertaining the people in security lines at the airport. Baltimore Washington International Airport hired us, and soon Groucho, Marilyn, Austin Powers, jugglers, clowns, and magicians were helping relieve the tension in the long lines of travelers. Those gigs helped pay the bills from October to Christmas. The press covered it, on the front page of the Washington Post, and our performers were even featured on the BBC!

Here we go again! Events being scaled down or cancelled. Big annual events that come around each year, whittled down to almost nothing. What to do? What's going to happen?

One thing I know is that fear is just not very conducive to creativity. After 9-11, I kept reading what other people were doing, what other opportunities might be hidden in the dire circumstances confronting us.

I searched around online today and found an encouraging article by Erick Weiss, of Honeysweet Productions in L A. In the article he quoted Dennis Perkins, author "Leading at the Edge." Perkins describes the challenges faced by Ernest Shackleton in his exploration of the South Pole, and defines what it takes to be a leader during difficult times. Here are his "10 Strategies for Success:"

1. Never lose site of the ultimate goal, and focus energy on short-term objectives.

2. Set a personal example with visible, memorable symbols, and behaviors.

3. Instill optimism and self-confidence, but stay grounded in reality.

4. Take care of yourself: Maintain your stamina and let go of guilt.

5. Reinforce the team message constantly: "We are one -- we live or die together."

6. Minimize status differences and insist on courtesy and mutual respect.

7. Master conflict--deal with anger in small doses, engage dissidents, and avoid power struggles.

8. Find something to celebrate and something to laugh about.

9. Be willing to take the Big Risk.

10. Never give up--there's always another move.

And here is a link to the full article, entitled "An Economic Forecast for the Events Industry in 2009" originally published in the MPI Southern California Chapter Intercom Newsletter:

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