Five random things I have learned in this crummy economy

1. Karma is real. If you do the right thing, it will come back to you. Everyone is uptight about budgets and losing jobs. Back in October, when the markets started dropping, I had plans to re-sod my front and back yard. The back was a “have to” – we have two dogs and had just removed a huge deck. It was giant mud pit. But the front yard, that was a want. So I decided to just get the back done. I hated to tell the nice guy who had quoted both projects that I was only doing the backyard. I came home one day two days prior to the time he told me he’d start and he and his team were working in the yard. I said, “Wow – you’re starting early.” He told me everyone had done what I’d done. Pulled back plans a little bit and his company had some time on their hands. “We can sit at home and watch TV or we can make this the best back yard ever! Will you let me take pictures when we are done?” Wow. It was a simple, sweet lesson I will long remember. And I have given his name to four other people in the last four months. Over-deliver whenever you get the chance.

2. Everyone has a chance to lead. I have a unique opportunity to have relationships and conversations with people who own companies or manage brands on a pretty regular basis. And this economy has made a lot of us, well, tired and grumpy. I see this time as an opportunity for everyone who is lucky to be working to learn (or start) something new. To sharpen skills. If you see a need in your department or organization, learn a new skill. Fill that void. Don’t ask. Just do it. Take a leadership role. Think as if you own the business. It will make your leader/manager/boss or whatever you happen to call them, well, less grumpy. And you will give yourself an amazing gift in the process. (Being a serial entrepreneur, I am helping my partner Greg Cordell bring a brilliant product idea to life. Stay tuned!)

3. It’s about the money. And purpose can drive profits. If you tie your beliefs as an organization to the goals you are trying to reach, great and remarkable things happen. But for those of us in marketing right now, articulating and reaching short-term business goals is priority. If you aren’t doing that well, then figure out ways to get better at it. Know what works – and more importantly, what doesn’t. Measurements and ROI for marketing teams are different now. Listening and the ability to join our customers lives has changed that forever. How many engaged customers do you have? How many new ideas are generated by your loyal evangelists? How has listening changed the way you look at ROI?

4. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s even better to say thank you. When things are rolling along, I personally forget the power of asking for help. I have never once been denied a request for advice or an introduction or an endorsement. These days have made me very aware of that. And also remind me of how priceless that advice, introduction or endorsement truly is.

5. Silence is golden. We live in an era of 24/7 media. Turning it off for a period of time is not just smart, it is what will move us forward. Do it, people. Give yourself a 24 hour break every so often and see if you don’t feel better. Let’s not forget that lesson even when this economy rights itself again. And of course it will. I am currently taking a two-day break from twitter and not a soul has missed me. I read once that Bill Gates spends a week each year alone with his books and his mind. What if we all just did that right now? Imagine what might happen.

And oh, yeah. Work hard and be really nice to people. That goes without saying.

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