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Top 7 Things to do When Staring into the Abyss

By John | October 27, 2008

Every time I hear the “R” word it reminds me of how long I have been working as an IT professional. Officially, I have been in IT Management for 30 years, however, only 28 years in a professional capacity. This will be the third time in my career that I will have to deal with the “R” factor (i.e., the recession). Obviously, times like this can put you in a paranoid state and you might need to come up with a strategy. For good or bad, simple or intuitive, these are my suggestions. Hope this helps…

First Impressions Last a Life Time

This is good advice for people who are just starting out in their career. On the way down you will want to pull out that list of the people that you impressed on the way up. If you are a keeper, in their opinion, they will find you work. For you old timers like me, start calling your old friends now.

Look Busy

In times of uncertainty most people stop working really hard because they are uncertain of the status of their project’s future. There also seems to be more coffee pot discussion about the uncertain times. Calm down, STOP talking about the uncertainty, and get busy.

Not a Good Time to Have an Ego

I always chuckle when someone asks me what my consulting rate is. I always respond with that depends. If I have 10 people that currently want my service, then the rate is very high. However, if I have nothing in the pipeline and it is the beginning of a recession, I can be very flexible. I’ll be honest with you, it is very difficult to come off a project where you were getting $2000 a day and then take an $800 per day project. However, if the time is right, it might be the best thing to do. Don’t let your ego get stuck up with the “I am worth more than that” syndrome. I have seen a lot of guys that would reject an $800 per day gig over pure ego to find out two months later they can’t even get the $800 per day job.

Work Hard and Have Fun

I tell my kids everyday as I drop them off for school… “Work hard and have fun”. In my opinion, you can’t do a great job unless you are having fun. It doesn’t matter if it’s recessionary times or boom times, you need to like what you are doing. Don’t take a crappy job just for the money. In my opinion holding out for the right job is more important than the money anytime.

Do Now and Ask For Forgiveness Later

I am a big believer in the “DNAFFL.” As long as you are not breaking the law or hurting someone I believe that when you are faced with a task, that must be done, you just need to get it done. Sometimes you can’t wait for an approval. Or even worse, in bad times everyone else becomes a coward and no one is brave enough to approve anything. Have confidence in your own judgment and just get it done. If you do a great job it will all work out just fine.

Don’t Be Afraid to Take Risks

Sometimes the greatest opportunities present themselves during bad times. This might be the best time to take a risk. My last company grew from zero to three million in revenue in three years all because I took a risk when things looked really bad. In 1998 Deloitte and Touche and Arthur Anderson both had Tivoli consulting practices with over 40 consultants each. By 2001 neither of them even had a Tivoli practice. That is exactly when I start my first Tivoli service company.

Bonus Advice

Honesty is always the best policy.

Topics: abyss, other, theabyss | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Top 7 Things to do When Staring into the Abyss”

  1. How to Save $10 Million Dollars While Staring into the Abyss | IT Management and Cloud Blog Says:
    November 13th, 2008 at 3:45 am

    [...] Top 7 Things to do When Staring into the Abyss | Home | Cloud Camp Brussels [...]

  2. indyconsultant-florida Says:
    January 9th, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    http://www.johnmwillis.com/other/top-5-things-to-do-when-staring-into-the-abyss/
    Not Quite There Top 7
    *First Impressions Last a Life Time
    Repeating the same thing, expecting different results is insanity –Einstein
    Most are stuck in same position or retired.
    Impress someone new and rising.
    *Look Busy
    You are busy preparing for your next step.
    *Not a Good Time to Have an Ego
    Would you buy a quality steak dinner for a buck?
    How about an expensive Japanese car versus a cheap Yugo?
    *Work Hard and Have Fun
    I tell random associates, have a SERIOUS hobby like learning
    how to play the organ AFTER age fifty and work humorously.
    It’s only during the software ‘death marches’ that folks laugh
    at my lame jokes. Too much tension is dangerous to performance, as many
    Olympic athletes know.
    Work funnily and Never goof off when having fun.
    Why the organ? I’ve always want to play at my funeral –
    reports of my demise are greatly exagerrated – Mark Twain.
    *Do Now and Ask For Forgiveness Later
    Best way to get boss think you are after his job.
    Ask first, change it completely so it excels and give the
    credit to the boss.
    *Don’t Be Afraid to Take Risks
    Irrelevant as many have courage. Why else go for a B.S. and even M.S.?
    Be afraid of ‘hidden risks’. Be very afraid of the unknown risks.
    Opposing viewpoint.
    PS. I love playing the organ after reading Eric Raymond
    http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/hacker-howto.html

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