Prepare Yourself for the Next Step

Last week, I spoke to a gentleman who had been laid off from a job he had worked at for over 15 years.  He was like many people who I have spoken with who know that the economy is going through a seismic shift but thought he was safe and that it would not reach him. He either thought that he would retire before it touched him or the company would protect him because he was very valuable. Many people who are finding themselves in this predicament have been exemplary employees and often sacrificed for the company.  Now they have to live with the fact that the company can continue.

Now he found himself out of work, adrift, without purpose. Totally unprepared.

I have spoken to people who after being unemployed for months still were in shock. When I went through this I was surprised to see that you do go through the grieving process. But it is not from step 1 to step 2, you may cycle back through the process. Anger was the emotion that surprised me when it came back. My wife was telling me what we needed from the grocery store and I began to get angry. At a grocery list? No, I was still hurting from my lay off.

Men have a reputation for getting their identity from their work, but I have found that women will often take ownership of their job, especially the relationships they have with their coworkers or clients.  One lady was talking about how unfair it was to be let go when she often worked overtime and Saturdays without pay. It was what she made her priority.  Even though the company never asked her.

When a person loses their job unexpectedly, it may take a while for them to be able to see how they can come out of it. With unemployment rates over 8 percent, and holding, this is an all too familiar situation.

I am one who believes that the economy is going to improve. I also believe that it is up to each one of us to take ownership of our own careers. To me this is very empowering. The polls tell us that the majority of workers are not satisfied in their jobs. I believe that for those with jobs, now is the time for them to look at themselves and see what they want to be: do they want to stay in the same field, change fields, advance, or step back to a less stressful role.

When I came out of college, finally, I wanted to know what God’s plan was for me. I felt like it was going to be like a drag strip. Once you discover the secret code, it would lead you directly to a life of prosperity and fulfillment. For some people this works. But for most of us, life is more like a maze with many possibilities to get to the goal.

Statistically, Americans average 6 careers changes in their lifetime. Not job changes but career.  Changing jobs have become a common experience. It is even more popular among the millennial generation.

So is now a good time to look for a job? Instead of focus on job searching and job security, we should focus on career development. No matter where you are on the career ladder, you should be developing and defining yourself for where you want to be. Many people look back at their careers with regret because they did not do more, maybe follow a passion. Why not? Is this you?


I encourage you to look at yourself and determine where you want to be. Then determine how to get there. The next post will include some tips in making you the person you want to become.

Greenville Facing Globalization

One word that we are hearing a lot now days is globalization. When I was growing up (Gah, I hated when my dad started a story / lecture with those words), the economic competitors were mainly seen as the north or other regions. A lot of the prejudice I saw was due to fear of people taking our local jobs. In the south, jobs were hard to come by.  Now the competition is from other countries.

Thomas Friedman’s World is Flat really opened my eyes. It made globalization less something to be feared and more a force to be dealt with. We will be very smart to work with it and not fight it because it is going to / has happened. Now our job is to use it to our advantage.

We raise a cry when a company outsources jobs to another country. I hate to see people lose jobs, but it gives us a chance to review our skills and hopefully find a better use for our skills.  But what do we call it when it is outsourced here? BMW, Michelin, several companies that I can not spell, have built major plants in our area though they originally started overseas. The same thing we condemn in local companies has been a huge benefit for the region, We have a great opportunity to sell our area and people as the great assets they are for any interested companies.  We have the creative and intellectual pool that any company can benefit from.

I was blown away when Friedman opened my eyes to the populations of some of our major competitors. The population of THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (thank you very much) was 309.9 million as of 2010. (So if you are one in a million, there are still 309 of you.)That is good enough to be the third largest population in the world. China’s population estimated for 2010, 1.3 BILLION. Over 4 times as large! No wonder they can find the cheap human capital that is useful in manufacturing.  India, which seems to be concentrating on developing as a customer service hub, had 1.1 BILLION.

So how should we look at this? Should we throw our hands up and stick our heads in the sand? The business and entrepreneurial spirit in this region will not let us do this. Plus, there are just too many great opportunities for those who look for them.  Instead of looking at the 2.4+ billion as competitors, though they are, look at them as potential opportunities / customers. How can we reach them? Cheap prices won’t do it. Quality? The American mystique? Making a reputation for our area (The Spirit of the Great Smokies)?

Our region already has been defined. How can we maximize it?

Also, as other economic markets grow, they will be better sources of customers. It should be our goal to help developing nations grow as that will help us grow in turn.

There are three concerns that these opening markets cause. The first is ethics. We are seeing that they often have a different set of rules or principles that they play by. Our desires for equality and rights are not universal. A huge problem that we have had with working with China and others is that they do not protect intellectual property when dealing with foreign entities. This is a basic business foundation to allowing companies to operate within your borders.

Second, human rights. We will not go into that here.

Okay, there are a lot more, Quality control. Finding lead and heavy metals in paint for baby cribs that were shipped to America is a huge cause for concern. Can we really check all the cargo containers that come through our ports?

The flattening of the world can be haunting, exciting, scary, isolating, and a whole host of other emotions. But it is something that our region will have to take hold of and use to continue to grow and be leaders in the world market.

(Populations from for 2010)

2012 Regional Economic Scoreboard

2012 Scorecard Summary

I want to bring attention to the 2012 Regional Economic Scorecard that was done through the Greenville Chamber of Commerce. They compared Greenville and the Greenville area to other comparable locations. One of the biggest points that the study makes is that Greenville has undergone a large decline in per capita personal income over the past decade.

That our individual incomes have decline is no surprise to anyone. That it declined compared to other regions is a concern that we need to address. It is studies like this that helps us identify what we need to address. Now the concern is do we have leaders that will notice and step up to take the steps that are necessary to help us make up the ground we have lost.

The study estimates that if we were able just to stay even with the national average, we would have an additional $11.1 billion  in spendable income for the local area. that is a lot of peaches and tomatoes.

In 2010, which is the last data available, we did show a small upturn. Now we need to determine what caused it and how to ensure it continues.

thank you Leadership Team who