Lessons from the Great Recession.


I learned a lot from the Great Recession. A lot. It was a very difficult time for many people and continues to be for many that haven’t emerged.

I have spoken to many transition groups multiple times and have met with countless people during those years. It is not difficult to feel and see despair and frustration.  In those days nobody would even dare ask at the beginning or end of the meetings if there were any good news stories about people landing because there weren’t any. Everybody was running for cover when the world was melting and we were losing 500,000 jobs a month.  Today some people are able to raise their hands and say they have landed or secured a consulting gig.  There is more hope in the air.  Guarded hope.

You don’t find out about the economy in the paper; you learn the true economic reports on the streets and during the great recession many people including me felt at times that we were licking the sidewalks of life.

I learned many things being one of the founders of Laguna Niguel Connectors a group that grew from 4 people to over 3200 currently on Linkedin.  I learned about the power of people, the blessings of serendipity and the engine called Linkedin. When you had over 100 people meeting for endless months on the third Friday of the month in Laguna Niguel who were in transition it wasn’t too difficult to see that the recession had touched every community and every street. The miracle of Laguna Niguel connectors was the quality of the people that attend and the pay it forward helpful attitude of the vast majority of its attendees.

I learned that there are Angels of the recession. People like Cindy Pickens who founded Café Net and has helped thousands of people in transition without ever asking for a dime.  Many people who volunteered their time to speak on Linkedin at various venues to help those in transition master its power in the job search. People like Sven Johnston, Ted Robison and Tim Tyrell-Smith. And there are many more.

Although the recession was very painful for many I think it provided great lessons for today’s youth.  Prior to the great recession many were the enabled generation with high levels of expectations of entitlement.  Today I believe that the Millenials are a very responsible and industrious group who has learned through the pain of many of their parents that many institutions can’t be trusted any longer and that hype is just that.  Hype. They also understand that the employer-employee relationship is much different these days and for the future.

I have learned that business had changed forever.  That you need many more irons in the fire than before if you are hunting for a job or a project.  Decision making and approvals can take much longer. Budgets are tighter and every dollar must have a return.

I have also learned that the benefit of social currency that you get from networking can be even more powerful than that of financial currency because your network of people is what truly enriches you life.

So what have you learned?

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6 thoughts on “Lessons from the Great Recession.

  1. Michael W. Young

    Hank, thanks for your thoughtful blog. There is little doubt that the Great Recession changed many of us forever. For me, a scar which becomes a mark of character, a mark which initiates a conversation, a reminder of skills and people I shall never forget. You taught me that it’s NOT my network and that it doesn’t matter who you know…it’s who knows you. So to anyone who thinks that the next career opportunity will come through that 15″ screen tomorrow, I say the only thing you’ll see is the job that went to some one else. Networking is meeting people and asking how you can help them.
    I’m no Angel as you refer to those who so selflessly give, but some Angel’s have given me a little dust to sprinkle about to help my fellow Execs in Transition when I can. I’ll add to your Angel list by noting the amazing contributions of Steve Scott ( stevescott@techacq.com ) at the San Diego Life Science Roundtable and the totally devoted, Grace Decker at The Boardroom, San Diego. Truly Executive Angels!

  2. Hank, great article. Thank you for offering so much. It is really helpful.
    But several times you refer to the Great Recession in the past tense. ‘It was a very difficult time’…’Those years’…’the Great Recession was very difficult…’
    This use of past tense was really confusing. Is it over? Was the Great Recession in the past?
    I appreciate all the tips and insights. I’m just wondering what makes you think it is over.
    Here in LA most people I speak to are still very much still experiencing the Great Recession.

  3. I think a lot of people haven’t learned as much as they should have. The media has skewed public opinion to the point where it’s entirely Wall Street’s fault, and sadly many consumers did not and still don’t take individual responsibility. This music video may be extreme in their perspective, but it does explain the phenomenon of accountability and taking responsibility for our own decisions –

  4. Nice post Hank! True enough our current economic reset has altered the lives and careers of millions of professional people. For many people working in the creative professions it has been a crushing experience. If you are a Boomer, even more so… it has also been an amazing time of creativity and re-invention for those that choose to view it as such.
    I think many people are hoping things will come back to normal–this is the new normal.

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