Saturday, January 31, 2009

Hard Times Speech

You know, it's been really interesting.

Ever since I posted the Christmas Party speech here in December, a large percentage of referrals from Google to this blog have been looking for CEO speeches of various types. Amongst the speeches being searched for are 'bad times speech', 'hard times speech', 'difficult speech to give'.

I want to help. Here's my shot at the speech these CEO's might be looking for:

Hello everyone. Thanks for taking the time to get together today.

I'm not going to waste your time or mince words. The reason for getting together is to bring you up to speed on the company's status. Unfortunately, it's not as good as we all would have anticipated even 6 short months ago.

There are several issues.

First, our sales have slowed dramatically. As you know, we count on other businesses for approximately 60% of our sales. All of them sell to consumers. And consumers have dramatically limited their spending to the point where category demand in our space if off over 40%.

Although our consumer products are doing better than most thanks to our strong brand and innovative distribution, we're still seeing declines that we had never anticipated when we started the new plant 18 months ago.

Second, we are seeing a serious slow-down in payments from customers. In fact, our average days outstanding - the average amount of time its taking to receive customer payment has increased by 50% just in the last 30 days.

So what does this mean?

It means that we cannot be complacent.

As CEO my first priority is to ensure that this company remains strong. By remaining strong, the best interests of shareholders, customers and employees are looked after.

Effective today, we are announcing a series of actions that will make our company leaner, more efficient, more effective and ready to take advantage of the significant opportunities that we see opening as weaker, less well prepared competitors stumble.

All of us will feel the pain of these actions. However, we have not and will not stray from the core values of this organization - accountability, fairness and compassion. You have my word on that.

While it is very difficult to predict when these unique and difficult business conditions will pass, our vision remains intact. This is an incredibly talented and committed team that I am honored to lead. Working together, we will emerge stronger and more successful than ever before.

Thank you.

Funny Picture

Out there on the internet.

Humour aside, airlines are looking at the capacity of the rafts they carry based on the US Air experience. Apparently there isn't enough capacity and some airlines have already gone as far as limiting the # of passengers in certain aircraft.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Consulting Insight

I'm posting videos on YouTube covering some of the basic questions I get as a consultant. You'll see the links to the right at the top of this page, under the YouTube logo.

The first few are all about engaging a consultant. Over time, I'll add more, including some of the basic management and leadership questions clients have.

Here's the link to my YouTube Channel for all the videos or if you want to subscribe.

Happy New Year...Belated

It seems like the sentiment generally is that 2009 has to be a better year than 2008.

I get that. It would be hard to deny that the end of the Bush years has been pretty rough. Whether that's a surprise or not I don't know. Mismanage anything long enough and it has a tendency to blow up.

Personally, 2008 wasn't so bad. But I am looking forward to 2009 just the same. Not sure I'm going to change much. My strategy: keep learning, keep trying new things, share what little I know, stay as helpful as possible, stay honest.

There are some people I'm looking forward to working with in 2009.

One is my broker. He did a really good job through the meltdown but feels he could have done better. So, instead of sitting around, he's been working his tail off (there's been more than a few 7 day weeks) for the past few months to devise an ever better way of doing his job. Give him credit, he's involved his clients through the entire process. Did your broker do that?

I'm looking forward to working with my clients. They have big potential. Each is facing similar challenges in getting there - basic stuff like getting really good at planning, execution and leadership. If they can hang in there, what they're about to achieve is going to make them very happy.

I'm looking forward to the Longtail team getting our act together in 2009. Longtail is the web-publishing/Search Optimization and Marketing business I'm a partner in. Selling search optimization is the easiest service I've ever sold. 98% of businesses STILL have no clue about the powers of having a strong on-line presence. However, Longtail has opportunities well beyond being a service provider that are very, very exciting. If we can just stay focused.

Ever notice how advice is always for other people??!!!

I won't be working with them but I wish all the best to a couple of past clients. The path you're on scares the hell out of me but I'd still like to see you succeed. Hopefully it will work out.

Finally, I've got some close friends, family and people I care deeply about who all have incredible potential. 2009 is going to be a year of change for many. I'm here if it helps.

So, all the best for 2009. No question, it will be challenging. But I'm also pretty sure it will be full of opportunity. Just like every year. If I can help, let me know. Jim

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