Friday, October 10, 2008

Financial Musical Chairs: When The Music Stops

This bumpy financial ride continues with the Nikkei in total freefall this day. I remember learning to play musical chairs as a kid. They cranked up the music, everyone trotted around the 20 chairs the teacher had placed in a circle, when the music stopped, it was survival of the 19 fittest, everyone scrambling for a chair, one guy being odd man out. One by one, the game finally found a winner. It was usually some big pushy kid we all hated.

So here we are again, with a big game of Financial Musical Chairs. But this game is really scary. This game starts with a few million chairs, everyone trotting off to work, the music happily playing non-stop in the background. Some of us have a lot, some a little invested in the market, some were more keen on cash, some actually liked gold, everyone expected the music to continue -- well, not everyone.

The music has stopped. And they aren't taking ONE chair away per round, they may be taking away millions of chairs, and it may be a helluva scramble to regain a seat. Am I pessimistic? Well, maybe realistic, with a slight sense of optimism.

How to keep your chair? Maybe you need to build your own chair. And don't forget to study all the great companies that were born in hard times.

In bad times, people still keep having babies. In bad times, people still keep launching ventures. In this financial meltdown, stay in there and keep at it, we never needed your optimistic entrepreneurial attitude more than now. The next president will need an Entrepreneurial Peace Corps to get this party started again.

Photo credit: Jan Stewart